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Front Page » December 4, 2008 » Carbon County News » Exercising caution when installing holiday lights curbs a...
Published 2,128 days ago

Exercising caution when installing holiday lights curbs accidents, injuries


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By JULENE REESE
Utah State University Extension writer.

Holiday lighting contributes to accidental injuries caused by electrical shock, falls and fires.

Utah State University Extension agricultural engineering specialist Richard Beard offers several suggestions to curb accidental injury risks as people illuminate for the holidays.

Beard recommends that Carbon County residents:

•Look for labels marked with UL or ETL when buying outdoor Christmas lights.

The labels mean the product has been tested by an independent laboratory recognized by the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Outdoor lights with the labels satisfy the minimum standards for product safety.

•Make sure the packaging states that the lights are designated for outdoor use. Outdoor lighting is weatherproof and designed for harsh winter conditions.

Local consumers should not purchase used Christmas lights or lighting not in the original package.

•Purchase lights with  miniature, low-heat producing bulbs if possible. The lights require less amperage and are less likely to overload electrical outlets.

•Select appropriately sized timers to turn lights on and off. Lights should be turned off when people are not at home and should not be left on overnight.

•Remember that outlets for exterior lighting should accommodate three-prong grounded plugs and be on an electrical circuit protected by a ground fault interrupter

Portable outdoor GFCIs may be purchased at hardware stores if the circuit protection is not available., explained the USU extension agricultural engineering specialist

•Use outdoor cords with three-prong plugs if extension cords are needed for the lights. People should never use an indoor cord or a cord without the third prong.

Residents should plug the cord into a grounded outlet and use the shortest cord length that works for the project.

People should also keep outdoor electrical connections above the ground and out of the snow and water. If extension cords cross walkways, they should be taped down.

•Check the manufacturer's guidelines to determine the number of light strings that may be safely plugged together. If it's not listed on the package, consumers should not connect more than three light strings, cautioned Beard. A maze of extension cords, plugs and wires coming from the same electrical outlet can be hazardous.

•One of the greatest dangers when installing lighting involves ladders, emphasized the USU Extension agricultural engineering specialist. People should use a sturdy ladder that is the proper height, and be sure it is securely positioned.

To avoid falls, local residents should move the ladder as necessary rather than leaning on it from side to side.

•Use screw-in hooks or other fasteners that will not damage the insulation on the lighting strings. Nails and staple guns can easily cut or damage insulation and conductors.

•Refer to the manufacturer's guidelines to determine the recommended spacing for supports and the maximum span allowed for the light string. Christmas lights are generally designed to span distances of a few feet and should be supported at intervals every few feet, pointed out Beard. When possible, lamp sockets should point down to avoid moisture buildup.

•Never operate light strings with missing bulbs.

•Remove outdoor lighting at the end of the holiday season.

Christmas lights are not designed to withstand prolonged exposure to sun and weather, concluded Beard.

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December 4, 2008
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