Connecticut is a magical place throughout the holiday season. You can take the Lantern Light Tour through the Olde Village in Mystic, or the Northern Lights Limited – Santa Express train ride in Thomaston, finishing up with a Carol Sing. The Carousel Museum and Santa’s Farm are in Bristol.
Become enthralled with Hartford’s Light Fantasia, with more than a million lights in 200 displays that celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s, and Three Kings Day. You don’t even have to leave your own city or town, even the streets are lined with beautifully decorated homes, homeowners sharing the spirit of the holidays with their neighbors.
With the average yard size in Hartford being 9,571 sqft. and in New Haven being 7,375 sqft. – it’s no wonder the spirit of the holidays is displayed strongly within the outdoor space of Connecticut homes. It might be hard to imagine, but there is an annual average of 15,000 injuries seen in Emergency Rooms across the country due to holiday decorating. To stay safe while getting into the holiday spirit, here are some precautions for decorating the outside your home in particular, but many of them translate just as well to decorating indoors.
For starters, one general rule that applies to ladders, lights, and cords is to inspect everything and do not use if damaged.
- Use wooden or fiberglass ladders when decorating outdoors. Metal ladders conduct electricity. In fact, do not use any type of ladder near live electrical wires.
- Check the maximum load rating of the ladder with your weight and the weight of what you’ll be carrying.
- Have the ladder situated on stable ground.
- Have someone at the bottom of the ladder to hold it steady (but only one person on the ladder at a time)
- Make sure the ladder is long enough to extend at least three feet over the roof.
- Use lights that have been certified for outdoor use, i.e., with a red Underwriters Laboratories (UL) stamp on the label.
- Buy lights that have been inspected for potential safety hazards by UL, Intertek (ETL) or Canadian Standards Association (CSA).
- Plug outdoor electric lights into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs).
- Portable GFCIs are available wherever electrical supplies are sold.
- LED lights last longer than incandescent, generate less heat and are energy efficient.
- Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, the house, or other firm supports.
- Do not attach light strings in any way that could damage the cord’s insulation.
- Make sure spotlights are well-ventilated, protected from weather, and a safe distance from flammable items.
- Use a timer or turn off the lights before going to bed or leaving the house.
- Make sure the cords are rated for outdoor use.
- Cords need to meet or exceed the power needs of the item being used.
- Avoid overloading electrical outlets with too many cords. They can overheat and cause a fire.
- Do not connect an extension cord by connecting it to another extension cord.
- Do not remove the ground pin (the third prong) to make a three-prong plug fit a two-prong outlet.
- Keep all extension cords (and lights) clear of snow and standing water.
Keep Children Safe
- Do not use decorations that are sharp, weighted or breakable.
- Do not use anything with small, removable parts that a young child can swallow or choke on.
- Do not use any decorations that look like candy or food.
- Do not leave a ladder unattended that a child can climb on.
- Do not let children play with strings of lights or cords. They are strangulation hazards.
One more general rule: It’s not against the law (yet), but do not end up in the ER due to DWI – that would be “Decorating While Intoxicated.” It’s a cause of injuries more often than we would ever imagine. Following these simple tips will ensure a safe and festive holiday season!
Article provided by Ashley Miller. Ashley Miller is a home decor and lifestyle writer who cures her HGTV obsession by refurbishing anything and everything she can get her hands on into something new.