Outdoor Christmas Lighting Safety Tips

A house with an impressive array of Christmas lights.

Decorating your home for the holidays is fun and exciting, but it's no time to get careless. Each holiday season, hundreds of homes are damaged by faulty electrical wiring. You have to make sure you're as safe as possible and using the best quality equipment you can find. Here are a few simple ways to do so.

Use the Right Bulbs. . .

Avoid using seven-volt light bulbs. Sure, they are bigger and brighter, but they also burn much hotter than regular Christmas lights. One of the most common causes of holiday house fires is bulbs such as these being too close to gutters filled with dried-out leaves.

Make sure the strings of lights you're using outside have built-in fuses on the lines. Sometimes, these fuses are located in the actual plug. Also, if you have a string of lights with a blown bulb, be sure to replace it with a bulb of the exact same wattage.

Make sure you only use Christmas lights that are designated for outdoor use. If you use indoor-rated lights, they may not be able to withstand the weather conditions, causing them to break down much faster.

Only use Christmas lights and electric equipment that has been tested and verified by a reliable testing laboratory. Two reputable laboratories are UL and ETL. Any equipment or lights that have been tested safe will have one of their logos on the packaging. If it doesn't have it, don't use it!

. . .And Install Them the Right Way

Never tap into your home's feeder line to power your outdoor Christmas lights and don't hang decorations on it either.

Don't use nails, tacks, or metal staples to secure your outdoor Christmas lights. Use insulated hooks instead and be sure your lights are strung tightly to avoid damage from the wind.

Only use outdoor-rated extension cords. Plus, avoid connecting more than three strings of lights to a single extension cord.

All plugs should be plugged into a GFCI-protected outlet when used outside.

Never remove strings of lights by pulling on the wires. This causes the wires to break free from the sockets and the bulbs to break.

Decorating for Christmas doesn't seem so easy anymore, does it? Well, in truth, these tips don’t take that long to implement and are a lot more fun to deal with than a fire on Christmas Eve. Take the time, teach your kids these lifelong lessons, and your Christmas lighting display will be tops on the block.