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The holiday season is upon us. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas out there in all kinds of ways. All the Halloween candy at the grocery store has been replaced with Christmas candy, Starbucks has revealed a new holiday coffee cup design, Christmas music has already started playing in stores, and folks all over the greater Kansas City area are beginning to put up holiday lights on their homes.

Around 150 million strings and other sets of holiday lighting are sold in America each year, decorating an estimated 80 million homes. That’s not counting all the light sets that we haul out of the garage or attic and try to untangle each year before we give up and go buy a new string at the store. Those are the cheery figures. These are more distressing:

Around 15,000 people are hospitalized each year due to injuries caused by holiday lights and other decorations. And that’s not even taking into account the 5,800 or so people who head to emergency rooms due to falls while decorating their houses. And even that’s not the end of the concerning figures. According to the National Fire Protection Association, holiday lights cause no less than 770 house fires each and every year.

What are we to do? The holidays wouldn’t be the same without all those festive lights, and we would never ask you to do without them. We all LOVE holiday lights. We just need to exercise a bit of caution when putting them up and using them.

Sure, it’s hilarious when Clark W. Griswold (Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation) falls off the roof while putting up his lights or when the tree in his living room dries out and catches fire. In real life, though, those dangers are very real. Fortunately, most of the risks associated with holiday decorations can be mitigated by some simple safety precautions. As your friendly Olathe heating and cooling pros, we thought we’d scour the web and share some top tips from the experts!

For Indoor Holiday Lighting and Decorations:

  • Lights are either intended for indoor or outdoor use—not both. Make sure you’re using the right lights for the right application.
  • Only buy flame-resistant lights that have a product safety testing logo from someplace like the Underwriter’s Laboratory.
  • Use clips to hang lights in the house rather than nails. That goes for hanging lights outdoors, as well.
  • The rule of thumb for how many strands of lights you can safely connect together is three, though if your lights have different restrictions, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Turn off the lights anytime you go to sleep, leave the house, or even leave the room. Don’t leave holiday lights unattended while they’re turned on.
  • Only use GFCI outlets and be sure to not plug in too many strings of lights at once. Too many stringed lights plugged into the same circuit can cause breakers to flip or even circuits to blow.
  • Don’t place anything on top of extension cords. Extension cords generate heat, and if the heat can’t escape it can start a fire.

For Indoor Christmas Trees:

  • If you’re using a real tree rather than an artificial one, it needs to stay well-hydrated. Start with a tree that looks healthy and fresh, be sure to place it in a large reservoir of water, and keep the water refreshed.
  • Don’t let the tree stand too long once the holidays are over. A real tree only has so much longevity in it before it dries out.
  • Whether it’s real or artificial, don’t place your tree near a heater, a fireplace, or any other sources of heat that might start a fire. Definitely keep the tree away from candles or any other open flames, no matter how small.
  • If you’re using a metal tree, don’t place electric lights on it.

Outdoor Holiday Lighting and Decorations:

A lot of the advice that applies to indoor lighting is equally relevant outdoors, but some additional advice can help mitigate risk when you’re putting up outdoor lights and yard décor, especially if you’re planning an elaborate display this year.

Let the Pros Handle It – If you can afford it, turn the job over to a professional. Plenty of companies specialize in wiring and lighting, and they’ll be more than happy to help you rig up that extravagant holiday display this year. This has the dual benefit of reducing your risk of falling and of ensuring that all the lights are hooked up properly.

Don’t Overdo It – If you do decide to handle the decorating duties yourself, make sure that you take it easy. If you’re a fall risk or fainting risk, stay off ladders and heights. Let someone else in the family get up on the roof to hang those lights. Take breaks as you need to. There’s no rush, after all.

If the Weather Outside is Frightful – Then there’s no need for you to be out in it hanging lights. Check the forecast and pick a time to install your outdoor decorations when the weather is amenable. That goes double if it’s raining, sleeting, snowing, or the wind is howling all around your house. Just stay inside and have a cup of hot cocoa instead.

Check Your Footing – When it comes to falls that land people in the hospital, tumbles off ladders are among the most common culprits. It’s important to practice good ladder safety. Always make sure you have solid footing, and choose the right ladder for the job. A good ladder should extend at least three feet above the surface that you’re working on when placed at a 75-degree angle. While you’re at it, beware of where you place the ladder. Keep it away from doors and other things that might knock into it, and steer clear of power lines.

Don’t Leave ‘Em Up Too Long – If you’re cold, they’re cold, so bring your lights inside. Actually, bring them in within about 90 days of the holidays being over or they could be damaged by weather or pests. Store them properly once they’re down. That’ll not only help keep them from becoming damaged, it might spare you that tangled mess of lights next year.

All of this is pulled from advice handed out by experts including plumbers, electricians, home maintenance specialists, professional decorators, holiday lighting companies, power and light suppliers, real estate firms, and more. Fortunately, they all say pretty much the same thing: Exercise caution, and you can have a merry and bright (and safe) holiday season!

If you need any help from the Olathe heating and cooling service professionals in order to have a happy holiday this year, don’t hesitate to call Davenport Service Company at 913-441-2222! If you haven’t already had your bi-annual furnace inspection and tune-up, it’s not too late to get us out there to take a look and help make sure everything is in good working order before the weather gets too cold this holiday season.

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