Christmas Light Safety

Decorating with Christmas lights is a cherished holiday tradition. Some families prefer a subtle display on the Christmas tree, while others look to light up the neighborhood with an extravagant light display. It’s easy to forget that hanging outdoor Christmas lights comes with a certain level of risk. Perhaps when you first started decorating you were diligent about Christmas light safety, but you’ve gotten more relaxed over the years. It’s when you get comfortable that you start making careless mistakes.

Here are a few Christmas light safety reminders to help make sure that your holiday stays merry, bright, and safe. Click To Tweet

Before you start hanging your lights

  • Check cords and cables to make sure they work properly and are in good condition. Look for cracks in the housing, exposed wires, etc.
  • Replace your old lights to reduce the risk for fires. LED lights produce less heat than traditional Christmas lights.
  • Do not use indoor Christmas lights to decorate the outside of your home. Indoor lights aren’t rated for outdoor use, and using them outdoors presents the risk for shock and fire.
  • Check Christmas lights to make sure they work before hanging them.
  • Measure distances before hanging lights to know how many strands you will need.
  • Get longer extension cords. Most extension cords aren’t designed for daisy-chaining, and plugging electrical cords into each other can cause the cords to overheat.
  • Avoid walking on steep roofs; use a ladder instead.
  • Secure your ladder on even ground. Have someone hold the ladder for extra safety.

Safety tips while hanging lights

  • Don’t place breakable lights in high traffic areas. Maybe your children or grandchildren love to run and play around the driveway. Lining your drive with big glass bulbs to look like a runway for Rudolph is fun and festive, but it can lead to broken lights, broken glass, and a visit to the nearest urgent care clinic.
  • Don’t overload an outlet. Use a power strip with a circuit breaker.
  • Give children age appropriate tasks if they are helping with outdoor decorating: untangling lights, carrying boxes, or handing up decorations. Young children should be supervised at all times and should not get on roofs.
  • Don’t plug more than three strands of lights into a single extension cord.
  • Use Christmas light hanging clips instead of staples, nails, or screws.
  • Keep extension cords dry and out of water.
  • Use ground fault circuit interrupter (GCFI) outlets to help prevent electrical shock.
  • Secure cables, cords, and light strands on the ground to prevent trips and falls.

Additional Christmas light safety tips

  • Make sure your Christmas lights are off when you’re away from home. Consider setting up a timer or remote control to help make sure your lights aren’t left on unattended.
  • Don’t improvise. Stacking a tower of boxes may seem like a clever way to make up for the fact that you don’t have a ladder, but it’s dangerous.
  • Always wear appropriate footwear and clothing, and use safety equipment — such as gloves or eye protection — whenever necessary.
  • Don’t hang lights by yourself. Use the buddy system when on ladders or roofs.
  • Reposition your ladder instead of reaching or stretching to get extra distance. It’s better to take a few seconds to move your ladder than to risk an injury.
  • Wait for a nice day to hang lights. Avoid putting up lights in rainy or slick conditions.
  • Have an emergency plan. Hopefully you hang your lights without a hitch, but accidents do happen. Know where your nearest urgent care clinic is located.
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