How to keep yourself and your visitors safe this Christmas
Decorating your home is a fun way to share the magic of Christmas lights – and it could be the perfect way to help brighten up what might have been a challenging year!
Here are some safety tips to consider when you’re planning, installing or enjoying your Christmas lights.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions
When you’re planning your lights display, remember to only use outdoor lights outside – and always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
In Australia, all outdoor lights are required to have an IP rating (e.g. IPX3, IP23, IP44), which shows how weatherproof the light is – the higher the numbers, the better the weatherproof rating. Outdoor equipment must have at rating of least IP23. Check the box for the rating when purchasing lights, or check the manufacturer label of your existing lights to find out their rating.
Check for limits on how many hours the lights can be on safely and follow all safety precautions when you are installing and using your lights.
Use electricity safely
There’s a lot to think about with wires, surge protectors, extension cords, powerpoints and more. It’s essential that you:
• Always read and follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully.
• Always know the location of your main electricity switchboard and how to turn off your mains power.
• Use surge protectors and cover unused powerpoints.
• Keep your decorations and cords far away from water or water sources such as taps and sprinklers.
• Never go near your overhead power lines at any time, and be especially careful if you’re installing decorations on your roof.
• Invest in heavy-duty extensions cords that are suitable for outdoor use. Never use indoor extension cords outside..
• Make sure all wires and extension cords are safe to use and out of the way.
Always check with a licensed electrician if you have any questions or concerns about the safety or installation of your decorations.
Take care – and take your time
DIY projects – and any projects that involve electricity, roof climbing and ladders – need careful planning and careful work practices beforehand. Always use the appropriate equipment and personal protective equipment when you’re installing or checking your display.
Plan your decorating with plenty of time to spare so you can perform final checks, testing and make sure all of your equipment is safely stored away.
Make sure your Christmas lights and decorations are safely and firmly attached to your house, so a gust of wind won’t affect your display.
Your local hardware store might have advice on the types of hooks and fasteners that will be safe to use on your home. If you have any large or moveable elements such as sleighs, reindeer or an inflatable Santa as part of your decoration scheme, make sure they are safely and firmly anchored to where you want them to stay. Where possible, secure any inflatables with gravel and sandbags. Alternatively, you can buy inflatables that come with built-in sandbags.
If a storm is forecast, move large displays such as Santa and Reindeer inside, and if possible, cover lights displays with a tarp where you can to prevent damage to your decorations and your home.
Create a safe space for visitors
If you’d rather people enjoy your lights from further away, make sure there’s a safe space for people to stand which is off the road. You might want to use temporary fencing and friendly signs to keep people off any areas you don’t want them to stand on (e.g. “Reindeer landing zone – please stay off this grass!”).
Check for any cords, decorations or sprinklers which could pose an overhead or trip hazard to you or your visitors, especially in dim lighting conditions.
It’s a good idea to take relevant COVID-19 precautions into consideration to provide a safe and inclusive environment for everyone. When you’re designing your Christmas lights display, think about whether the space allows for physical distancing and whether you might need to have signage, cleaning routines or other practices in place.
Remember traffic and parking
Many people walk to see Christmas lights in their local area but even more will drive past on their tour of the Synergy Xmas Lights Trail. You might want to get advice from your local council on how they might help with traffic management, especially if your house is on a main road.
Wherever you live, speak with your neighbours beforehand to let them know there might be more traffic than usual in the lead-up to Christmas.
Each night before your lights are switched on and your visitors arrive, make sure your mobile phone has plenty of battery and keep a list of emergency numbers handy. You might like to keep a basic first aid kit, some hand sanitiser, basic cleaning supplies and decoration repair kit nearby, just in case.