Electrical Halloween Safety Tips
Ensure a Magical Night with These Halloween Safety Tips
With Halloween fast approaching, it’s time to get the house ready for trick-or-treating (or put the final touches on the annual showcase, for you enthusiasts). As every decorator knows, electricity plays a big role in a well-planned yard, home or haunted house. There would be few thrills without it, but it’s important to keep your yard and house safe. Whether you’re all set up for fright, or just getting started, heed these electrical safety practices and reduce the risk of personal injury or property damage.
Visually Inspect and Take Inventory
First, you’ll want to perform a visual inspection of your equipment. After spending much of the last year stowed away, check any electronics for exposed, aged or damaged wires. Any lights or electronics you expect to use outside should be rated for outdoor use. Discard and replace any items with crumbling or brittle wires. While you’re at it, untangle any lights or cords and make an inventory of what you’re working with to help in the creative process ahead.
During the inspection, check that your extension cords and lights are approved by a nationally-recognized quality testing lab. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration maintains a list of recognized testing labs (https://www.osha.gov/dts/otpca/nrtl/nrtllist.html). Approved devices bear a small stamp from the lab. Among the common testing lab marks are the Underwriters Lab (UL), Intertek (ETL) and CSA.
If you come across any wiring issues along the way, make sure to call a licensed electrician to help! Mishandling wires or performing a faulty repair could turn your night into a true nightmare. Don’t risk that! Call Hickerson right away for expert electrical repair.
Avoid Electrical Overloads
Many Halloween decorators may allow common sense to dictate this step, but it’s best not to guess when it comes to safety. If you’re unsure here, a certified electrician can quickly help you assess your setup.
First, determine your power needs in watts, adding up the total wattage of your electronics or lights. Divide this number by the voltage of the plug (a standard U.S. plug with vertical slots should be 120 volts). The number obtained are the amps you’ll draw from the circuit. In general, home circuit breakers are rated for 15 or 20-amp, but check your fuse box to be exact. If your decorations need more amperage than your breaker can handle, spread the load out to separate circuits.
Don’t forget to make sure your power extension cords are rated for the electrical load you need. The factory often prints this information along the length of the extension cord.
Whether you’re planning an elaborate Halloween setup, or something modest, you can reduce the risk of electrical shock significantly by using plugs with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI). These devices monitor the flow of electricity through your plug, and shut off the current if it makes a detour from its original path, such as through a person or object. In short, GFCI plugs significantly reduce the risk of electric shock. If you’re not sure whether your setup is GFCI equipped, a handheld tester can be obtained at a hardware store, or your electrician can run the test.
Hassle-Free Halloween Tips
The above steps should have you prepared to safely stage your decorations, but for Halloween to go off without a hitch, you should keep the following tips in mind:
- Mind your cords and lighting. Don’t nail or staple lights or cords. This can damage the electrical insulation, causing failure or electrical shorts.
- Choose safe materials. When setting up your Halloween decorations, keep your lights, electronics and power cords away from flammable materials such as dry corn stalks and hay. This will reduce your risk of fire.
- Save money by using common sense. Cut the power to your Halloween decorations when you go to bed or leave the house. This can be done manually, or with the use of an electrical timer. It’ll save you money on energy costs, and save those bulbs for the big day.
Hickerson Brothers has the expertise to tackle all your electrical projects, big and small. When you need professional, trusted service that you can always depend on, look no further. We will deliver high-quality workmanship at a moment’s notice. Call (703) 594-3913 to schedule your appointment!