Holiday Lighting Safety Checklist

Before you plug in and light up for the holidays, run your decorations through this quick safety check.

Image: Susan Sharpless Smith

Lights, inside and out, are a beautiful part of the holiday season. But as with all electrical devices, you need to take special precautions.

Before you deck the halls, run through this checklist to keep your holidays merry and bright.

Inspect Light Strings

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

Follow the Manufacturer's Instructions

The general limit for connecting multiple strings is three strings. Light strings with stacked plugs can usually accommodate greater lengths than end-to-end connections.

Replace Burned-Out Bulbs Promptly

Empty sockets can cause the entire string to overheat.

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.

Don't Use Outdoor Lights Indoors

They’re too hot for interior use. For the coolest bulbs and greatest energy efficiency, try LED lights, which come in a wide range of styles and colors.

Related: 6 Need-to-Know LED Holiday Light Tips

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.

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.

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.

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