Christmas light safety

Thursday, November 22nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Most people are still working on their home light display, and some are wondering - how many cords can be plugged into one outlet? Professionals take precautions, and you should too.

News on Six reporter Emory Bryan says many people think Christmas lights look best in big groups, and people keep trying to put more and more light into the display. Whether it's around a tree - or up on the gutter - there are some basic safety rules to follow. Russell Williams wants his display to be as good as, or better than the neighbors. So he and his son Preston are draping the azaleas with lights. "The low to the ground stuff is obviously easy, and the eaves of the house we had professionally done."

That's because their house has high eaves and a steep roof, no place for an amateur. That's good for business for Stan Soboleski with Artistic Applications - he's a professional Christmas light installer - and he says he's got plenty to do on his Christmas list. Soboleski says for looks, it's important to get them straight - and evenly spaced. For safety - it's important to have good ladders - and good light strings - no more than a few years old. “These things now are so much safer than they were three years ago, the wires are thicker, they'll allow a lot more load." Soboleski's crew uses 7 or 9 watt lights for most jobs. They use clips to install the cords - which doesn't damage the house - and eliminates the chance of a staple going into a live wire. And they're careful to limit the number of cords hooked together. "The manufacturer recommends four would be the limit, but you can go four in different directions. The fuses basically keep you from having an overload, and the little fuse will blow.”

It takes a lot of work to create a spectacular Christmas display - and a little caution to make sure the show is a safe one. Many of the new strings are wired so it doesn't matter if just one bulb blows - the rest will stay lit. And here's a good tip from the pros - if you're installing mini lights - keep them on during the process - so you can see if the string stops working.

If you use the big bulbs - unplug them before installing them - the bulbs are more prone to blow if they're on while you're working with them.