Deck Those Halls

’Tis the season! 

No matter what that phrase means to you, it brings with it certain guarantees for the month of December.  Your will go a-caroling just about every time you turn on the radio, whether you like it or not.  Commercials featuring brand new cars wrapped in comically large red bows will dominate your small screen (anyone else wonder how the car always gets backed perfectly into the driveway in the middle of the night with no one noticing?).  And whether you reside in the city or the ‘burbs, your block is likely to be bathed in brilliant color once the sun goes down, courtesy of thousands of twinkling colored lights.

Holiday light displays never go out of style.  Some are graceful, others a tad gaudy.  Some see the hanging of lights to be a symbol of giving and peace.  Others simply want the whole neighborhood to “LOOK AT ME!!”  But year after year, as soon as the Thanksgiving leftovers digest, millions put on a hat and gloves and head out to the garage to grab the ladder, and properly get their ‘Griswold’ on.

Now, if there’s one thing that can truly put a damper on the season, it would be to suffer some sort of accident while completing the most recognizable of holiday traditions.  So we come to you this week not with mortgage advice, but bearing a list of Holiday Light Safety Tips, ensuring that you and your family can truly have yourself a merry little…well, you know.

Because I Got High

Ok, so unless you have some radical new technique in exterior illumination, you ain’t putting these lights on the ground.  If you are required at any point to get on a ladder, use the buddy system - one holds, one climbs.  Make sure that your ladder is on secure and level footing before taking a step   Space the base of the ladder one foot away from the wall for every four feet it reaches up, for the optimal angle.  And if you have to reach the roof, extend the ladder at least three feet beyond its edge, to prevent the possibility of it sliding and…well, sending you head first into the driveway!

Use the Space

Have you put real thought into where you’re hanging those lights?  Sure, they would look sweet in the tree out front.  You know, the one that’s placed dangerously close to the power/feeder lines?  But that might not be the most rational space for you to be climbing toward.  And never, EVER hang lights on a metal tree.  Because, you know, electrocution.  And fire.

We’ll Leave the Light On For You

Just as important as where and how you hang your lights is the quality of the lights you use in the first place.  Only use lights and power strips/extension cords that designed for outdoor use.  In fact, your lights should be lab tested by UL, formerly known as Underwriters Laboratories (this info can be found on the label).  When you get previously used lights out of storage, be sure to check for any frayed wires or loose connections.  If you do find damaged strings, don’t use them, even if they still light.  Spend an extra few bucks, and eliminate the risk of fire.