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Longo Electric Blog

December 4, 2009

Christmas Light Safety!


How did Christmas arrive so fast? I’ll be putting up our own lights this week and it made me think that it would be wise to remind everyone that there are special electrical safety concerns that arise during the holiday season. I’ll just list my thoughts on the topic below with some brief suggestions on electrical safety during Christmas!

• Insure that all of your extension cords and light strands are “UL” (Underwriters Laboratories) listed. The UL listing on electrical cord sets and appliances assures us as consumers that if we follow the guidelines of a UL listing that we will be safe(r) from manufacturer defect. In other words, make sure the UL listing matches the actual use of whatever device you are using. Are your Christmas lights rated for outdoor use?

• Remember the cat from “Christmas Vacation”? Unfortunately, that does happen, our pets do chew on electrical cords and we should keep a close eye on the during the holidays.

• ONLY PLUG OUTDOOR CHRISTMAS LIGHTS INTO GFCI PROTECTED OUTLETS! Yes, I am shouting! How many times have you seen Christmas lights wrapped around wrought iron handrails leading up a set of stairs. did you ever stop to think that if there is a nick in the wire, that the entire handrail could become energized? Well it can! GFCI’s, or GFI’s (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters) come in the device form (receptacles) and in the circuit breaker form. GFCI’ check the amount of current flowing out on one conductor and make sure the same amount is returning back to its internal microchips. If the GFI notices a difference of as little as 5 milliamps, it interrupts (opens or disconnects) the circuit, thus saving you from an electrical shock. Just like metal handrails, your entire rain gutter system could easily become energized, so please be sure to use GFCI protection anytime you are using electricity outside or in any wet or damp location.

• Again, the image of Clark W. Griswold comes clearly into mind for this one; please be safe on those ladders while you are setting up your lighting displays. Don’t over reach, and why not get someone to foot your ladder for you. If you are using a metal ladder, remember that they are great conductors of electricity, both from overhead utility lines and from energized strings of lights. That is why we, as electricians only use wooden and fiberglass ladders.

If you need more outdoor outlets, would like to be able to turn your Christmas lights on from your iPhone, or would rather us climb the ladder for you, please just call us at Longo ELectric and we will be happy to be of service. The phone is always on: 865-233-3241. Besides, let us freeze out there while you watch us and sip on a cup of your favorite hot cocoa! We’ll even put on our santa hats for you so you can tell your neighbors about the elves who helped you put up your Christmas lights!

“Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night”