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Christmas Light Safety Tips


Decorating Dangers

There are two main areas of risk associated with hanging Christmas lights: risks from the installation and from the lights themselves. It’s very important to be diligent while installing lights in order to stay safe.

Decorating caused more than 15,000 injuries resulting in an emergency room visit, with falls being the highest, at 34%, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).


According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Christmas lights cause 40% of Christmas tree fires.



Replace Old Or Damaged Christmas Lights

Before plugging in last year’s Christmas lights, inspect their condition to make sure they’re up to par. Check for cracked or frayed cords, wires poking through the insulation and sockets without bulbs.

Dispose of any damaged or frayed strings of lights. They are cheap to replace, much cheaper than dealing with a fire.


When you upgrade old Christmas lights, consider LED lights with epoxy lenses. LED lights are cool to the touch, compared to traditional Christmas lights, and use less electricity resulting in a lower electric bill.

Since most holiday fires are caused by overheated lights on a Christmas tree, switching to LED lights will reduce the chances of your tree catching fire. An added benefit is LED lights have a longer life span.


Water Your Christmas Tree

Christmas lights are labeled by their use, so you’ll notice a disclaimer that reads “for indoor use only” or “for indoor and outdoor use.” Make sure you read this carefully as indoor-only Christmas lights cannot be used for the outdoors.


Indoor-only lights aren’t insulated like outdoor lights and won’t work with moisture from the outdoors. In fact, if indoor lights are exposed to water, snow or any other outdoor element, they could possibly become hazardous. Never use “indoor only” lights outdoors.


Use Outdoor And Indoor Lights Properly

Christmas lights are labeled by their use, so you’ll notice a disclaimer that reads “for indoor use only” or “for indoor and outdoor use.” Make sure you read this carefully as indoor-only Christmas lights cannot be used for the outdoors.


Indoor-only lights aren’t insulated like outdoor lights and won’t work with moisture from the outdoors. In fact, if indoor lights are exposed to water, snow or any other outdoor element, they could possibly become hazardous. Never use “indoor only” lights outdoors.


Ladders Safety

Since falls are the highest emergency room-related injury during the holidays, it is imperative to know how to safely use a ladder when hanging Christmas lights.

Have a spotter with you at all times to hold the ladder for stability and don’t put it at too steep of an angle. Use the 3-1 rule, for every 3 feet high the ladder should 1 foot away from the ladder contact point. Always anchor the ladder at the top. To prevent tipping when hanging Christmas lights, never extend your body further than parallel with the ladder.

Consider a wooden or fiberglass ladder when you’re working with Christmas lights to prevent an electric shock. Always unplug lights before installation.


Christmas Light Clips Instead Of Nails Or Screws

When hanging outdoor Christmas lights on your roof, don’t use nails or screws to secure the lights as they can puncture the wires, causing the lights to malfunction or, worse, shock the person installing them.


Instead, opt for light clips found at any hardware store to secure the lights onto the house. The clips are safer for the Christmas lights and will cause less damage to your roof, compared to nails or screws. Outdoor Command hooks can also be stuck to your home and will safely hold strands of lights in place.


Secure All Loose Light Strands

If you need to use an extension cord or have a long strand of lights between your Christmas tree and outlet, make sure you secure all loose light strands with electrical tape to avoid tripping and falling.


If you have loose light strands outdoors, secure them with ground staples found at any hardware store. Simply place the staple around the light and push as far as you can into the grass or other soft surfaces to secure the cord.


Do Not Run Christmas Lights Through Windows Or Doors

If you don’t have access to an outdoor outlet, you may find it challenging to light up your home this holiday season. Remember that you can’t run Christmas lights or extension cords through windows or doors.

When closed on the light strand, windows and doors can cause wires to break or become frayed from constant pressure, making them a safety hazard for shocks or electric fires. Hanging indoor lights around the window on the inside can look just as nice as outdoor lights.


Use A GFCI Outlet For Outdoor Lights

There’s a specific outlet used for outdoor Christmas lights called a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet. It prevents electric shock from electrical systems that could be exposed to wet conditions, like rain or snow, acting as a circuit breaker.


This is especially helpful if your outlet is outdoors. Make sure you protect yourself and your home from electric shorts by purchasing a GFCI outlet. You might need to hire a licensed electrician to install this outlet


Don’t Forget To Turn Off The Lights

Christmas tree lights should not be left on for prolonged periods of time or overnight. Even LED lights can overheat, and with a combination of a dry Christmas tree, could cause a fire. Make it a habit to turn off your Christmas lights every time you leave the house or go to bed at night.


To make it easier, purchase a light timer for your Christmas tree lights and set it to a time to turn off every night and back on the next day. You can also buy a wireless control or smart plug to shut off your lights through an app on your phone. Not only could this save your home from a fire, but it could also save you money in electricity bills.


A little bit of Christmas light Safety will go a long way to help you enjoy the holidays.



Written by: Joe Gardino, Senior Professional Inspector




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