Decorating your home is one of the most exciting parts of the Halloween season. It’s the perfect time to dress every inch of space up with bewitching baubles and spine-tingling trinkets.
Unfortunately, some scary hazards accompany the fun decor and seasonal excitement. For this reason, you should brush up on safety tips before pulling the Halloween decor out of storage.
If you’re new to decorating or don’t know about safe installation practices, don’t fear. We’ll discuss safety tips for outdoor decoration installation to make your holiday as safe as it is spooky.
Use Non-metal Light Hangers
Using the right hangers and hooks is a simple safety swap for Halloween lights. Many homeowners use metal hooks to hang outdoor lights, but this isn’t a good idea. Metal is a great conductor, allowing electrons to pass through it easily. This puts you at risk of electrocution or shock when installing lights.
Remove metal from the equation by using plastic zip ties to hang outdoor lights. Plastic is a poor conductor, making you less likely to suffer a painful, potentially dangerous shock. Plus, you can adjust zip ties to various tightness levels to keep your lights secure. When it’s time to take down your decor, simply snip the ties and dispose of them.
If you have a metal roof, install your lights with magnetic hangers like these from Amazon. These hangers attach to your roof and hold the string lights with plastic clips, preventing you from attaching the lights directly to the metal surface.
Practice Ladder Safety
Consider swapping your metal ladder for a wood or fiberglass model. Again — using metal tools around electricity isn’t safe. Just as you don’t want to hold a metal hook in one hand and a string light in the other, you don’t want to stand on a metal surface while handling electrically charged bulbs. Using a ladder with poor conductive qualities is the safest way to hang lights.
Electricity isn’t the only hazard to heed while decorating. You must also take caution while climbing and maneuvering tools several feet off the ground.
The Alliance Safety Council provides the following ladder safety tips:
- Inspect the ladder for stability before use, ensuring that all bolts, screws, and rungs are secure.
- Place your ladder on a level surface and ensure each of its legs has a non-slip pad.
- Place straight ladders at a 4:1 ratio; the ladder’s base should be 1 foot away from the wall for every 4 feet of height.
- While climbing, keep all tools and decorations attached to a belt or bag to ensure you have at least one hand gripping the ladder at all times.
- Never stand on the top rung or cap of the ladder.
Use Weather-resistant Devices and Accessories
Electronic Halloween decorations are a fun way to light up your front yard with a bright scene. However, all those moving, singing, and illuminating characters need a power source. You’ll need durable extension cords and multi-prong outlets if you use outdoor lights, motion-activated figures, and inflatable yard decorations.
First, ensure that your decor items, cords, and power strips are graded for outdoor use. If a standard power strip gets wet, it may start an electrical fire or shock whoever touches it. In less serious cases, the outlet could trip and damage all of your holiday decorations. In either case, selecting the proper outdoor lighting equipment can save you heaps of trouble.
Eastern Insurance Associates recommends having a licensed electrician hardwire and mount a weather-resistant power strip to your home. This simple improvement provides a safe place to plug in your decorations each holiday season.
Prevent Electrical Fire Hazards
Ensure your outdoor outlets have ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI). These outlets are easily recognizable by the two buttons in the center that say “test” and “reset.” GFCI outlets are crucial to your home’s electrical safety because they automatically switch off if the circuit overloads.
A circuit becomes overloaded when it starts using more electricity than it can safely manage. This may occur if you plug too many decorations into one electrical outlet or fail to check the amperage on certain electronic devices. If your outlets aren’t designed to trip during a circuit overload, the outlet will likely heat up, leading to melted components and potential electrical fires.
You can lessen the risk of a circuit overload by checking the amperage limits of your devices. Knowing the numbers ahead of time will discourage you from plugging too many things into a single circuit.
The solution is simple if you find that your decorations will likely overload your outlet. Plug a few items into a different outlet to evenly distribute the electrical flow. Consider using LED lights if you have hundreds of square feet to illuminate. LED bulbs produce less heat and use less power than traditional incandescent lights.
Once you’ve ensured your outlets and circuit breakers are in check, you’ll still need a way to plug in those fun inflatables and front yard scenes. But just like outlets, proper extension cord use is key to your safety.
E-Hazard provides the following extension cord safety tips:
- Don’t “daisy-chain” or connect multiple extension cords, as this can cause overheating and fires. Instead, select a long enough cord to reach your decorations from the outlet.
- Avoid hiding extension cords under rugs or anything that could cause them to trap heat or become crimped.
- Never use staples, nails, or other sharp objects to attach a cord to a surface. These tools could puncture the cord’s insulation and lead to shock and fire hazards.
- Move extension cords as far out of frequent foot traffic areas as possible. This will create less risk of damage to the cords and lower trip hazards for passersby.
Electrical fires aren’t the only flame hazards to heed for this Halloween. If you plan to decorate with combustible materials, you must practice some extra caution. Place decorations made of cloth, crepe paper, or hay far away from outdoor heaters and open flames. Even if you plan to light torches, candles, or jack-o’-lanterns for one night, you must ensure flammable items are well out of reach.
Practice Safe Pumpkin Carving
Jack-o’-lanterns are an iconic Halloween decoration perfect for any front porch. However, carving even the simplest patterns in a pumpkin can be a hazardous task.
Follow these pumpkin carving safety tips for an injury-free experience:
- Wash and dry all of your carving tools before beginning. Ensure everything, including the knives, pumpkins, table, and your hands are completely dry to avoid slippery surfaces while cutting.
- Always ensure children have adult supervision while carving pumpkins. This lowers the risk of injury and provides immediate assistance if injury occurs.
- Never let small children carve pumpkins; instead, make them responsible for drawing the pattern onto the pumpkin’s surface or cleaning out pulp and seeds before an adult takes over with the carving knife.
- Avoid using your largest, sharpest knife. Pumpkins have tough skin that can be quite difficult to cut through. If a knife launches through a tough patch of skin, it could cause serious injury to the hands or bodies on the other side. A smaller, duller knife and short strokes provide a more controlled cut.
- Use a pumpkin carving kit for the best results. These kits have small serrated carving knives suited for sawing through thick pumpkin skin.
Now you’re ready to outfit your home for the holidays safely and efficiently. With these safety tips in mind, you’ll have a delightfully spooky Halloween yard without compromising the safety of you, your family, and trick-or-treaters.