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7 Tips for Christmas Light Safety

Updated on February 28, 2013
Inspecting light sets before you put them up will help ensure a safe Christmas.
Inspecting light sets before you put them up will help ensure a safe Christmas. | Source

By Joan Whetzel

Every year, as Thanksgiving rolls around with Christmas following hot on its heals, those of us who celebrate Christmas start thing about putting up the Christmas lights and decorations. Before putting up those lights, however, you may want to consider running through a lighting checklist.

1) Untangling Old Light Sets

Begin by untangling the old light sets. Be careful not to tie the cords in knots, or to break the cords, plugs, light bulbs and light sockets. Replace any broken light bulbs.

2) Checking Wiring

Carefully check the wiring for breaks or cracks and for damaged light bulb sockets and plugs. If there are damages to these parts of any light set, toss it out.

3)Checking for Burned Out Lights

Plug in each light set to check for burned out bulbs or blown fuses. Unplug problem sets, replace light bulbs and fuses as necessary, then re-plug the light sets into the outlet. If a new fuse does not fix the problem, toss that light set.

4) Hanging Lights Inside and Outside

Hanging lights on the tree is a no brainer. Most lights inside can be draped or wrapped around things like banisters. Lights hung outside around the roof line can be hung with a set of hooks that slide between the roof and the shingles. However, lights along the roof top or around tree trunks are most frequently hung with staples. The problem arises when staples pierce the lighting cords. To be safe, make sure to aim each staple’s tines so that they straddle the cord. If the staple punctures the cord, it could short out the wire, or worse, start a fire.

5) Extension Cords

Check extension cords for damaged plastic coating as well as broken wires and plugs. Throw away any damaged extension cords. This is a no brainer, but bears repeating: Be sure to use indoor extension cords only indoors. They aren’t rated for outdoor use.

6) When Is Enough Too Much

Know where you will plugging in each light set and find out how much voltage each outlet and its circuit breaker can handle. If you’re not paying attention, it’s quite easy to over load a circuit. If your taste for lighting exceeds the amount of electricity that your circuit breaker panel can handle, then it may be time to consider using a generator to pick up the slack.

7) Taking Down and Storing Lights

When taking down lights, wind them up around slats of cardboard to keep them from getting tangled. Check the lights and cords over before storing them for problems that may have developed while they were set up.


Keeping your Christmas lights in working order and discarding damaged light sets will prevent holiday fires. By exercising a safety before setting up Christmas lights and before putting them away each year, you and your family have a safer - and happier - Christmas

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    • joanwz profile imageAUTHOR

      Joan Whetzel 

      6 years ago

      To Just Ask Susan: The possiblity of starting fires worries me too. And I too am amazed at some of the Christmas light displays. I don't have the patience for tha amount of work, but I don't mind checking out the displays of those that love to set the up.

      To danski344: Those LED lights are great. They aren't quite as bright as the incandescent bulbs, but like you say, they cost less to run because they use less energy and they burn a lot longer.

    • profile image

      danski344 

      6 years ago

      My name Dan just joined week ago trying to passionate

      Suggest expand on extension cord idea being a safety person your blog is a good reminder to let us not forget about our safety issues as Christmas can be so ovrewhelming LED real Good saves 10x as any other bubls

    • jaywigz311 profile image

      jaywigz311 

      6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Very informative, thank you.

    • thewahm profile image

      thewahm 

      6 years ago

      Great hub! I am a huge fan of lots of lights! A few years ago hubby and I decided to do lights on the outside of our home. After an entire day of hanging them we flicked the on switch only for the lights to cut on for about 2 minutes then go out. We spent hours trying to find the broken or loose bulb. After no luck we were certain the lights were broken. We took them all down and took them back to the store. I explained why we were returning them and the lady informed me that we had to many plugged in together! DUH! That's when it hit me, we never even checked to see what the max was. Thank god we did not have a fire.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Great tips for Christmas lights. I am always so careful as it terrifies me think how easily a fire can be started. Loved the video's. Amazing how people go so utterly crazy when it comes to decorating their homes with lights.

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