Every year after the holidays, you carefully zip your artificial Christmas tree into a waterproof bag. You lovingly place your precious ornaments into padded boxes. You neatly fold your leftover wrapping paper and stack it in a plastic box so it will come out fresh and ready next December.
But are you jamming tangles of electric light strands into a box that’s a little bit too small? And how about the extension cords that let you plug your tree into an outlet that is way too far away for a regular cord to reach?
It’s a good bet that those extension cords are still plugged in.
Once this holiday season is over, take as much care with electrical cords as you do with the family heirlooms that help make your holidays special. Here are five ways to keep your light strands in good shape and prevent them from becoming next winter’s fire hazard.
As you take down each strand of lights, inspect it for broken or burned-out bulbs. Replace the bulbs and discard any strands with frayed or damaged cords.
Label each strand of lights to remind you where you like to hang it. A year is a long time to remember those details.
Pack up all extension cords along with the decorations. Extension cords are designed for temporary use and are not safe for continual use.
Invest in a storage wheel designed for string lights and a bag sized for the reels. That will keep the cords from tangling, the bulbs from breaking, and the weather and bugs from ruining your lights. Or, instead of a reel, use a rectangular piece of cardboard with a slit cut in one end. Slide one end of your lights in the slit and then wrap the strand around the cardboard and slide the end into the slit. Your lights will remain tangle-free until next year.
Remove batteries from decorations before you put them away. You use the decorations only for about one month every year, and the batteries likely won’t last until next December, even if they’re dormant. Plus, batteries can corrode and leak all over your packed-up electric toys and decorations.