Check Before You Plug In Those Halloween Lights!

Halloween LightingWith the Halloween holiday quickly approaching, adding Halloween lighting can not only make your building more festive, but may actually be able to boost your sales. Bright and flashy light displays and decorations take a lot of electricity and may put a drain on your electrical system – and could be a potential fire hazard. Did you know that holiday lights and other decorative lighting are involved in at least 150 catastrophic fires between Halloween and Christmas each year? These fires, on average, account for 9 deaths and up to 16 severe injuries each year.[1] Now is a good time to perform any preventative maintenance on your system to make sure that when you plug in your lights, you won’t be risking your employees’ and customers’ safety. Here are 4 things to consider when deciding how and where to decorate your building for Halloween and beyond.
  • Determine your current usage. Your business may already be running at full electrical capacity and adding other lighting may overload your system. Consider calling a licensed electrical professional to inspect your electrical system and advise you on where and how many decorative lights you may be able to add without causing a fire hazard or a potential electrical outage. Keep in mind that large equipment should have individual electrical lines – separate from other devices. To avoid a power surge, plug in new lights and decorations in a different outlet that is not being used to run existing equipment.
  • Look for the right labels. When using Halloween lighting be sure that any power strips, surge protectors, or extension cords you use are clearly labeled with either of the following marks:[2]
    • Underwriters Laboratories (UL);
    • Electrical Testing Laboratories (ETL);
    • European Commission (CE); or
    • Canadian Standards Association (CSA).
This means that the electrical device has been tested and is safe to use as an electrical outlet.
  • Consider lighting placement. If you are using outdoor lights, make sure they are approved for outdoor use. Electrical lights often have pesky cords that need to be secured properly to the floor or wall. Only use electrical tape to do so, to prevent potential fire hazards. Never staple or nail wires or cords to the wall or floor.[3] If you decide to decorate the exterior of the building, including parking structures, plug all lights into ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). If you are ever in doubt about the proper way to install lighting decorations, call Capital City Electrical and we would be happy to analyze your outlets to make sure they are safe for use.
  • Avoid placing lights in contact with fabric or paper. Whether you’re thinking about adding paper pumpkins, cornstalks or fabric decorations determine the best placement for them away from lighting fixtures and lighting decorations. Lights, especially non-LED lights, can generate significant heat and when in contact with flammable material can spark a fire.
These are just a few areas to consider to keep those in your building safe and festive – without putting anyone at risk. It is always good practice to unplug your holiday lights at night or when no one will be in the building. Emergency exits are not frequently used and may be tempting places to set up festive areas – but resist the urge! Never obstruct emergency exits and signs with decorations and make sure all walkways are clear of decorations or cords. Happy Lighting and Trick or Treat!
Halloween Lighting Checklist
Stay safe during the Halloween season with this Top 10 checklist. Click here to download.
[1] http://www.nfpa.org/research/reports-and-statistics/fire-causes/holiday/christmas-tree-and-holiday-lights [2] http://www.esfi.org/resource/the-right-light-holiday-lighting-safety-tips-349 [3] https://www.travelers.com/prepare-prevent/home/home-safety/halloween-safety.aspx