Holiday Lights Safety Checklist for Worry-Free Decorating

Don’t keep them up too long!

Christmas lights outside a home
Image: Susan Sharpless Smith

Lights, inside and out, are a beautiful part of the holiday season. 

But before you deck the halls, run through this holiday lights safety checklist to keep your holidays merry and bright.

#1 Inspect Light Strings

Discard any that are damaged. Frayed or cracked electrical cords or broken sockets are leading fire hazards.

#2 Replace Burned-Out Bulbs Promptly

Empty sockets can cause the entire string to overheat.

#3 Make Sure Outdoor Lighting Is UL-Rated for Exterior Use

Exterior lights, unlike those used inside the house, need to be weather-resistant. The same goes for any extension cords used outdoors.

#4 Don't Attach Light Strings with Nails or Staples

They can cut through the wire insulation and create a fire hazard. Only use UL-approved hangers.

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#5 Take Exterior Lights Down Within 90 Days

The longer they stay up, the more likely they are to suffer damage from weather and critters chewing on them.

#6 Store Lights Safely

Tangled lights can lead to damaged cords and broken sockets. After the holidays, coil each string loosely around a stiff piece of cardboard, wrap it in paper or fabric to protect the bulbs, and store in a sturdy container until next year.

RelatedChristmas Lighting: Tips to Save Time and Money

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Pat Curry

Pat Curry is a former senior editor at "Builder," the official magazine of the National Association of Home Builders, and a frequent contributor to real estate and home-building publications.