Holiday Lighting Safety: Indoor Lights

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Decorations make your home come alive with the spirit of the holidays. Nothing encourages warmth and coziness like twinkling, multi-colored lights, tinsel, and garland. If you're like most people, however, those strings of lights you're wrapping around Ol' Tannenbaum have probably been in your family for a few generations and are probably stored in either a cold, damp basement or a hot, humid attic in between holiday seasons.

Did you know that Christmas tree fires occur in approximately 200 homes each year? They are also responsible for approximately six deaths, 25 injuries and over $6 million in damage. Think about it: You're putting electric lights on a tree that is only going to get dryer and more flammable as time passes, so the potential for danger is real. If you follow these holiday-lighting tips, however, you have a much better chance of enjoying a safe, happy holiday.

Check Your Existing Strings of Lights for Fraying

When you took your holiday lights down at the end of last season, how careful were you? Were you rushed, eager to get the decorations down so you could catch some of the big game? Odds are you weren't as careful as you should have been and some of the wires may have been damaged. Before using your old lights, go through each strand, socket by socket, to make sure no wires have been pulled out, stripped, or frayed.

Hang Your Lights Wisely

If the Three Wise Men were around today, they would no doubt advise you to avoid using nails, staples, or tacks to hang your strings of lights. Most hardware stores sell insulated holders specifically made for hanging holiday lights.

Hang Your Lights Carefully

Think about where you are stringing your lights before you actually do it. You don't want to hang the lights near anything that's remotely flammable, such as paper, or any heat sources, such as fireplaces, space heaters, or candles.

Make Sure the Lights are UL Approved

You may be tempted to pick up dollar-store Christmas lights to round out your holiday decorating, but be careful! Many of the bargain or discounted holiday lights are not UL approved and, as such, pose a higher risk of fire hazard. Always look for the UL label verifying that the equipment has been tested and verified to be safe.

Use Only Indoor Lights for Indoor Decorating

Holiday lights are rated indoor and outdoor for a reason. Outdoor lights burn a little brighter, which can cause them to create more heat than indoor lights. Hanging outdoor lights inside is a fire hazard, especially if they are placed on a tree.