Deck the halls with Christmas lights in perfect safety

CHEER: Large scale lighting displays pictured at dusk and in the dark. Photos: Supplied

CHEER: Large scale lighting displays pictured at dusk and in the dark. Photos: Supplied

Vicki Deece loves to make a statement at Christmas, and last year decided to decorate one of the majestic Cedrus deodara on her property.

"We sourced oversized decorations that wouldn't get lost in among the branches and kept the colour scheme simple. We used long, thick lengths of tinsel so that everything popped and sparkled in the sunlight during the day," she said.

The challenge was in the scale - at 15m tall, this tree trimming would take more than a ladder, and Vicki was certainly not going to strap on climbing equipment. She sought advice and hired the proper gear (a cherry picker) from the experts to create the effect she wanted.

We asked the head of safety at Kennards Hire, Roy Gumkowski, for some handy safety hints ahead of this silly season to make sure we, like Vicki, can make a statement without taking any unnecessary risks.

Spot test

Safety checks need to begin before thinking about ladders or lifts. Roy urged extensive spot tests inside the home as you unravel your lights.

"Don't wait until your lights and decorations are installed before checking if they are safe," he said.

"If you notice any damage or fraying of cords or dodgy light fittings, they are not safe to be installed."

Even if the decorations with damaged cords still run when they are plugged in, they're not safe to use, Roy warned.

Inflatable decorations are best stored in their original packaging and should be checked for minor holes or tears that need fixing.

Watch a large-scale Christmas tree decorated in time lapse.

Outside power

Check all cords and fixtures as a priority before set-up, Roy said.

"If it is a rainy day and your decorations are slightly worn out, you could have an electrical fire or worse on your hands," he warned.

"Once you have ensured decorations are in optimal condition, set them up in a clean area."

If decorating roof gutters, for example, clear all leaves and debris. Ensure all leads and plugs are covered in weather-proof coatings to avoid any water entering.

"If you are concerned about running too much power through the house, you can look to hire a generator to provide an additional, steady power source and avoid unwelcome interruptions to your home power."

Safety first

The rickety old ladder that was your dad's back in the day is not the safest and can be a serious hazard, Roy warned.

"We recommend hiring equipment, from platform ladders to cherry pickers, depending on the size of your Christmas installation," he said. "These provide stable footing and can hold all your tools, lights, tinsel and baubles as you manoeuvre around your yard and home."

Light installation can be a long and fiddly job, so make sure you take regular breaks.

A helping hand

"You want to be creative and have fun when decorating your home for Christmas, but don't compromise your safety for the sake of a few lightbulbs," Roy said.

"Always make sure you have someone help you when hanging and installing decorations up high or working with electricals.

"If you are using access equipment over 12 metres, you'll need an Elevated Working Platform (EWP) license to operate it.

"Make sure you cordon off the area in which you are working so that you have a safe work zone."

Seek the advice of a professional on the best equipment you need to help you have the merriest ho-ho-home in the street.

This story Deck the halls in safety first appeared on The Canberra Times.