16 Safety Tips for Christmas Lights

For many, Christmas is all about the decorations and the process of turning a familiar-looking home into a magical winter wonderland. A home bedecked with festive tinsel, an impressive tree and strings of twinkling lights is a truly beautiful thing, but it is important to put the health and safety of you and your family first.

Statistics released by the Electrical Safety Foundation show that electrical fires caused by decorative lighting are responsible for $9 million worth of property damage each year, and, tragically, nine deaths per year on average.

Follow our tips and have yourself a happy, healthy and – above all – safe holiday season.

Tips for Before You Hang Your Holiday Lights

Christmas light safety is about being careful, remaining vigilant, and staying safe throughout the whole process. These are some tips to be aware of before you’ve even hung the first bauble on the tree.

  1. 1. Choose an artificial tree over a real one, and make sure that the tree is certified as fire resistant.
  2. 2. Choose epoxy-lensed LED lights. These lights are cool to the touch and more durable than their glass counterparts.
  3. 3. Check all your lights for exposed wires, damaged plugs and other defects before you start decorating.
  4. 4. Check that all your lights are certified as safe for the location you want to use them in (i.e. internally or externally).
  5. 5. Dispose of any older electrical Christmas decorations, as these might not meet modern safety standards.

To Know While You're Decking the Halls

So you’ve got the decorations down from the attic, chosen and purchased new ones to replace the old, damaged ones, and you’ve enlisted the help of your friends and family. Now the real work starts. Follow these tips and stay safe.

  1. 6. If you have to use a step ladder to reach high places inside your home, make sure the ladder is safe and secure with all four legs on the ground.
  2. 7. Double check all fastenings when hanging lights on the exterior of your house to prevent any dangers associated with the lights falling.
  3. 8. Don’t hang any Christmas lights over anything which could cause a fire hazard, like a lampshade, an existing light or over the fireplace.
  4. 9. Where possible, don’t use candles. Of course, they look nice but the fire risk they pose cannot be underestimated.
  5. 10. If installing external lights on your property, always use a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlet. This acts as a circuit breaker and will prevent harmful and potentially lethal electric shocks in wet conditions.
  6. 11. Use insulated hooks to hang wires and lights on internal walls as metal screws and tacks can become electrified.

Safety While Enjoying Your Christmas Lights

Even with your lights freshly installed and switched on, you still need to be aware of potential dangers. By following these simple tips you can make sure that this Christmas is the best one yet.

  1. 12. Always turn off all Christmas lights when you go to bed or when you leave your property. Even LED lights have the potential to cause a fire if left unattended.
  2. 13. Don’t let small children or pets pull at or play with your Christmas lights.
  3. 14. Never “daisy chain” electrical extension cords by attaching multiple cords together. This can cause the extensions to overheat. Instead, simply invest in a longer extension cord.
  4. 15. Never plug more than three sets of Christmas lights into a single extension cord, as this can also cause problems with overheating.
  5. 16. Take extra care when packing your Christmas lights away. This means that you can use them safely and efficiently in years to come.

We would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from everyone at John C. Flood. Don’t forget to share our handy tips with your family and friends and spread the Christmas cheer!

(Featured Image by Aaron Jacobs, via Flickr)