Many thanks to readers who spotted the caution — Do not hang electric lights on aluminum Christmas trees — on the website about vintage Christmas lights. With some additional research, I uncovered a news release from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, dated 1978, that also warned of the potential for electrical hazards when you combine metallic Christmas trees with electric lights:
Never use Christmas lights on a metallic tree because a person could be electrocuted if the tree becomes charged with electricity from metallic tree needle decorations getting into the light sockets.
I am also going to point to another caution: that frayed wiring of your Christmas lights has the potential to start off the hazardous electrical chain. Note, damaged wiring can cause fires on any sort of tree.
Seems that aluminum is a conductor of electricity, so if you put electric lights on it, you have the necessary ingredients to create shock and/or fire. So take notice – and take care! The smart — and easy — thing to do with vintage aluminum trees: Hang ornaments…and use a color wheel. In fact, it seems that color wheels were devised to get right around the electric-hazard issue of stringing lights onto aluminum.
This is an opportune time for me to remind readers that on this blog, I do not generally allow readers to offer safety or environmental advice. I advise folks to empower themselves by doing their own research and consult with pros/experts regarding their own particular situation. This precaution regarding aluminum Christmas trees and electric lights, though, is validated on a government website, so I thought it would be of value to readers, many of whom may have aluminum trees, which only seem to grow and grow as a desired collectible.
Relatedly, here is the U.S. Fire Administration’s page on Electrical Fire Safety in the Home. Ensuring you have safe wiring in your home, appliances, motors, etc. is another thing that should be on your radar if you are the owner of a vintage home or any home, period.