It is that time of year again, and people are scrambling to decorate their homes. Everybody loves driving around and looking at the beautiful displays, but they represent a LOT of hard work. If they aren’t done correctly, they can also represent a danger to the family in the home. With that said, remember these things when you start getting your sparkle on:

INSPECT, INSPECT, AND INSPECT! Look at every string and decoration over before using it this year.
SPEND THE MONEY. Buy the things you need to make your home safe. If you see a frayed cord or have a cord cap that needs replacing, then get new ones. A few years of saving money by using old or damaged items may be negated when one fire erupts.
USE GROUND FAULT CIRCUIT INTERRUPTERS (GFCI’S). If the outdoor decorations don’t have one built in, then be sure your outdoor receptacle is protected, either at the outlet itself or in the breaker panel.
AVOID STANDING WATER OR AREAS WHERE WATER MAY GATHER. If you know that water will accumulate, then pass that area over.
HAVE A BASIC UNDERSTANDING OF AMPERAGES AND THE LOADS ON YOUR CIRCUITS. Divide the total wattage by the voltage available, usually 120 Volts, to figure the correct amperage. Most outdoor receptacles are 20 Amp, so don’t overload them.
USE THE HEAVIEST OUTDOOR EXTENSION CORDS. Overloading an extension cord is asking for trouble. If you are putting several strings of lights on it, then get the heavier option. The minuscule difference in price is easily worth a good night’s sleep.
PURCHASE LIGHTS RATED FOR OUTDOOR USE. LED’s are a great option since they don’t give off heat and are not a fire hazard. They also are more efficient to use and last longer.
USE THE CORRECT CLIPS. Do not staple your lights to the house. One staple that perforates a cord can cause a fire. Instead, find the gutter clips or screw-in clips and use those. Once you have them installed, the lights will go up easily next year as well.
USE THE CORRECT LADDER! While we are talking about installing those clips, make sure you do it from the properly sized and safely inspected ladder. You should not be standing on the top step or reaching beyond the “belt buckle rule”. This rule says that if you are on a ladder, the center of your waist, the buckle area, should not extend beyond the side rail of the ladder. Doing so means that your center of gravity is extended too far out, and you risk a fall.
IF YOU DECORATE YEARLY, INVEST IN EXTRA OUTDOOR RECEPTACLES NEAR WHERE THEY ARE NEEDED. This eliminates the over-use of extension cords and allows you to get to power where it is needed. If you decorate your entire yard from one outdoor receptacle, you will find it wonderful to have one or two more put in.
PUT THEM ON A TIMER OR LIGHT SENSOR. This not only keeps them from burning all day, but it saves on your power bill, and that means more money for presents and decorations.
TURN THEM OFF BEFORE LEAVING HOME OR GOING TO BED. You can turn them on again when you get home.
Lights are a wonderful way to enjoy the holidays. Please do it safely so you can enjoy them again next year. Happy holidays from Professional Electric!

Visit us online at www.ProfessionalElectric.biz and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter! We are available 24/7 for emergency services. Mobile, Alabama: (251) 473-5788 Baldwin County: (251) 929-8957.

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