Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas lights safety warning

I would like to stress the importance of not being killed by your house this holiday season. The ubiquitous Christmas lights can be a killer if not used and hooked up properly. If you have Christmas lights, please make sure they are plugged into a receptacle that is protected by a GFCI. In older houses, it is quite possible there is no GFCI protection at all in the place anywhere. GFCI's can prevent you from being electrocuted. I guarantee you, they're cheaper than the cheapest funeral ;->

Even if you don't have any GFCI receptacles or circuit breakers in the place, what you can do cheaply and easily is buy a GFCI protected extension cord to plug your lights into. Places like Home Depot, Menards, etc will have these special cords available. The cord implements its own onboard GFCI that will protect things plugged into it. There's an example of one of these GFCI protected cords HERE

A while ago I wrote THIS POST which I'll excerpt a small secion of again here.
[...]We typically electrocute a few people a year and burn down a few houses in this country because of this blindness to the American cultural reality of Christmas lights. I caught my neighbor last year running his Christmas light off a cord pinched under his front door plugged into a non-GFCI recepticle. Two years ago, a guy in Miami was electrocuted walking around in his front yard because of such a dangerous lashup. Christmas is supposed to be a happy time. Dying because your house killed you shouldn't be part of the normal holiday plan.

A few years ago I fitted my house with a switched recepticle up under the eaves (fed by a ground level GFCI so it would be easy to reset), with weather cover that allows the Christmas lights to be plugged in while retaining rain tightness. No dodgy extension cords laying in the yard. I am a happy man[...]


geoff said...

Thanks, PA. We just moved into an older house with no ground wires to most of the outlets. Will these GFCI cords work with that?

Purple Avenger said...

Geoff, I've decided to make my response to this question a whole new blog post since its so long and of general interest.