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Safety tips for hanging holiday lights

December 6, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in many Los Angeles neighborhoods.

But before you head up that ladder to deck your home in Christmas lights, you'll want to do a few things first to ensure safety.

Daryl Lee and his professional crew hang lights at about 100 homes every holiday season and says that hanging Christmas lights safely actually begins on the ground.

"Check everything that's on the ground," Lee advised.

Lay out your lights on the ground to make sure all the bulbs are working. Replace any bulbs that are broken and look for frayed lines.

"Make sure that if you've got a frayed wire in your bulbs, just throw that strand away, don't even try and hang it," he said.

And with all of the winds to hit Los Angeles in the last week, Lee also suggested waiting another day to hang lights if it's too windy.

Next, make sure your staple gun is properly loaded with staples before you head up to your roof.

"Once you get up on that ladder, you want to do what you need to do and get down. Don't stand there and play around with things," Lee said.

The kind of staple gun you use is also important. Lee uses a staple gun with wire guards that protect the light strands from getting hit by the staples.

"If a staple gets aligned the wrong way, it can actually blow the circuit, or just pop the fuse in the line," Lee said.

One thing a lot of people may be uncertain about is the amount of light strands that can be strung together before it becomes dangerous.

Larger C9 bulbs can typically be run together in strands of three, or about 75 bulbs. However, there is no one standard for the popular icicle lights.

"When it comes to icicle-style lights, you need to see what the manufacturer is saying, because in some cases it's two strands in a row, other cases you can go three, even four strands," Lee said. And if ever you're in doubt, Lee reccommends consulting the box.

There are things to consider inside your home as well. If you have a fake Christmas tree, make sure it is fire resistant, which should be indicated on the box. If your tree is real, make sure its fresh. The needles won't break when they're bent on a fresh tree, and the trunk should be sticky.

Finally, consider that electrocution is possible with the lights on your tree. Do not use faulty lights, and when using a spotlight on your tree, make sure it hangs either above or to the side of your tree.

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