As the end of November nears, ladders, large plastic characters, and a tangle of lights will often emerge in people’s driveways. It’s holiday light season, and many people take a DIY approach to creating winter wonderlands out of their yards.
But if you’re not a seasoned holiday decorator, it’s important to keep safety top of mind as you string lights and connect extension cords across the yard. A reported 173,000 people in the US were injured from their holiday decorations around Christmas time.
If you want to leave the lights to the pros, putting them up can range from $100-1,000, Home Depot estimates. For those wanting to do it themselves, here are some tips for staying safe while also making a memorable yard for your home and your neighbors’ delight.
Remember, these activities can be dangerous and you should not attempt them without proper training and safety equipment.
Stringing lights along the eave of a house often involves standing on a step stool or ladder. To do this safely, it’s helpful to have a second person holding the base of the ladder and spotting the other person in case they lose their balance. When setting up the ladder, put it on firm, even ground that is dry.
Climb using three-points of contact, so at least three points of your body must be touching the ladder at all times, the American Ladder Institute recommends. Make sure that the weight capacity of the ladder you select can hold you and whatever tools you are bringing with you.
If your roof is especially steep, it is not recommended that you attempt to traverse it if you’re not a trained professional.
However, if you have a much gentler roof that is low to the ground, Better Homes & Gardens has some advice for how to do so safely. This includes steps like finding a properly fitted harness, securing a rope with a breaking strength of at least 700kg to the house or a tree and attaching it to the harness, only going up onto the roof when it’s dry, and always working with a partner to spot you on the roof or ladder.
When running cords and electric lights outside, you need to make sure all cables and lights are weather-proof (this should be labeled on the box it comes in). Make sure the wattage going into your extension cords doesn’t exceed its limit (you should be able to check the wattage rating on an extension cord’s tag).
You should also keep your wiring off the ground, so that the winter elements of hail, rain, and snow don’t cause any damage over the weeks the lights are on.
Questions about home insurance? Contact a Sea Mountain Homeowners Insurance Specialist today!