Decorating your home, yard or office is a fun, festive way to celebrate any season, holiday or special occasion. However you get into the spirit of the season – from Halloween to Hanukkah, Christmas to Kwanzaa, Bar Mitzvahs to birthdays, and everything in between – here are some tips from Travelers Risk Consultants to help keep your family and friends safe around your decorative displays.
Lights and electrical décor
- Purchase lights and electrical decorations (animatronic dolls, train sets, air-blown yard decorations, etc.) from reputable retailers.
- Use lights that have been tested for safety – look for a certification mark from UL, CSA, ETL or other nationally-recognized laboratories. Consider using LED lights when possible – they run cooler, use less energy and last longer than incandescent lights.
- Carefully inspect all lights and decorations for cracks, damaged sockets and loose or bare wires prior to use – these defects can cause a serious fire or shock.
- Never exceed the maximum number of strings or devices that may be linked together, as indicated on decoration packaging.
- Plan your displays according to the number and location of available outlets, and avoid overloading electrical outlets.
- Unplug electric lights, devices and decorations before replacing bulbs, changing parts or attempting other repairs.
- Turn off all lights and electrical decorations before leaving your home or office, or going to bed.
- Plug all outdoor lights and decorations into ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) to reduce the risk of electric shock. Portable GFCIs for outdoor use can be purchased where electrical supplies are sold.
- Secure lights, decorations and cords to prevent wind damage.
- Never staple, nail through or fasten electrical wires or extensions cords in any way that might damage the wire or insulation. This could cause electrical shock or fire.
- Keep yourself, your decorations and equipment at least 10 feet from power lines.
- Make sure decorations are well-ventilated, protected from weather and a safe distance away from flammable items.
- Use wooden or fiberglass ladders when putting up electrical décor and lights outside as metal ladders conduct electricity.
- If possible, use battery-operated candles in place of traditional candles to avoid the hazards of an open flame.
- Place lit candles away from flammable or combustible materials, including other decorations, fabrics, plastic or paper products.
- Do not put candles in places where they might be easily knocked over.
- Never leave a lit candle unattended. Extinguish all candles before leaving a room or going to bed.
Packing and storage
- Inspect and discard damaged decorations prior to packing and storing them.
- Disassemble, pack and store all decorations according to manufacturer’s instructions.
- Store decorations in a dry location that is out of the reach of children and pets, as well as heat sources and open flames.
- Stack boxes in a corner or other stable location, and never higher than eye level to avoid injury or damage from toppling.