13 Holiday Light Dangers You Need to Know

Stay safe this holiday season by knowing these potential Christmas light dangers. Electrical problems contribute to home fires every year.

Christmas-tree-lit-up-at-nightNina Buday/Shutterstock

This holiday season don’t forget about the potential hazards your Christmas tree lights can present in your home. U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 160 home fires each year from 2013-17 with an average of three deaths, 15 injuries and $10 million in property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Lighting equipment and electrical distribution accounted for 44 percent of Christmas tree fires.

Here are the holiday light dangers you need to know.

Don’t Use Electric Lights on a Metal Tree

Electrical shock and fire are risks with this combination.

Don’t Leave Lights on Overnight or While Gone From Home

Unplug tree lights before leaving the house or going to bed. If you have these holiday decorations, watch out for these fire hazards.

Be Aware of Fire Hazards

Keep the tree at least 3 ft. from candles and fireplaces. These hidden things could be a fire hazard in your home.

Verify Proper Rating

Be skeptical of discount Christmas lights and make sure they have an Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) logo on them or an Intertek (ETL Semko) logo.

Check for Fraying

A lot of things can happen in a year when you store your Christmas lights. Depending upon where you store your Christmas decorations, you could encounter some damage to your lights. Learn these Christmas decoration storage tips to protect your decorations.

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Use Indoor Lights Indoors and Outdoor Lights Outside

It seems pretty obvious but people sometimes think they’re interchangeable. They’re not. Lights designed for outdoor use are made to withstand cold and wet conditions. Indoor lights are safety tested so they’re not a fire hazard for trees.

Never Use Staples, Tacks or Nails to Hang Lights

Staples, tacks and nails can pierce Christmas light strands and create a potential electrical shock. It’s best to use insulated holders designed to hang Christmas lights.

Extension Cords

Make sure they’re in good shape and don’t overload them. Place them in a place where they won’t be a tripping hazard and they won’t topple your Christmas tree and decorations. Don’t try to emulate Clark Griswold this winter. 

These are the best extension cords for running Christmas lights outside.

Bulb Replacement

It’s dangerous to plug in a strand of Christmas lights with an empty socket, so it’s important to test your Christmas lights with a bulb tester. Here’s how to use a bulb tester for your Christmas lights.

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Know How Many Strands You Can Connect

The rule of thumb is that you can only string three strands of lights together safely. Any more than that and we’ve created a potentially dangerous electrical situation.

Keep Your Tree Hydrated

Dry trees burn quickly so you need to keep it watered. Use these Christmas tree safety tips to make sure your tree stays hydrated.

Use GFCI Outlets for Outdoor Lights

A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) reduce the danger of deadly shock from faulty plug-in cords and devices. It will detect dangerous ground faults and immediately turn off power. Here’s what you need to know about adding an outdoor outlet to power your Christmas lights.

Don’t Run Lights Through Windows or Doors

It should go without saying but you shouldn’t run lights through doors and windows because the cord can become damaged, creating a dangerous electrical situation.

Next, have you considered an alternative Christmas tree? Check out how to create a ladder Christmas tree in the video below.