14 Christmas Lighting Installation Safety Tips

Christmas Lighting Installation Safety Tips

Christmas lights look great on our homes, and they make the holiday season cheery and bright. But installing holiday lights doesn’t come without risk.
Falls from ladders, electrocution and fire are all common risks when lighting your home for the holiday season. In fact, according to estimates, 150 home fires are caused each year as a result of improperly hung Christmas lights.

Are you planning to install lights on your home this holiday season? Here are 14 safety tips to help protect you and your home.

1. Keep An Eye Out for Broken Bulbs

Broken or missing bulbs on a Christmas light strand are common causes of shorts, shocks and even fires. Before installing your lights, be sure to replace any broken bulbs. Another tip: Test all your lights before installing them. This will help you identify any problem bulbs before they’re on your home.

2. Use the Right Outlet

If you have a GFCI, or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupting, outlet, you should use it. This type of outlet trips when it’s overloaded or there is a short. This will help you avoid tripping the breaker in your home, and it will help protect against fires.

3. Be Careful with Strand Length

The more strands you connect on a single circuit, the greater the likelihood for shorts. Typically, store-bought lights have thinner wires, which aren’t designed for more than 1.8 amps of current. That equates to about 4-5 40-watt strands, if you’re using incandescent bulbs.

4. Use Fastener Clips

Staples or nails aren’t a great choice for fastening lights to your home. In fact, staples can actually damage the wire insulation, which is a common cause of shorts or light failure. Instead, gutter clips and adhesive fasteners are the safest choice.

5. Practice Ladder Safety

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are some 15,000 injuries reported each year during the holidays. Falls account for about 34%, or about 5,100 injuries per year. If you’ll be going up on a ladder, follow these tips:

  • Make sure the ladder is secure before climbing
  • Have a helper hold the ladder to prevent movement
  • Use the right sized ladder; you shouldn’t be using the very top rungs
  • Consider a wooden ladder, as metal ladders can conduct electricity

6. Avoid Overloading Outlets

Plugging too many strands of lights into an outlet will cause overheating – which is a fire hazard. Similarly, avoid overloading extension cords. The best option is to use an outdoor-rated power strip.

7. Shut Them Off When You’re Away

You might be tempted to leave your lights running all holiday season. But if you’ll be away for an extended period, the best option is to turn them off. One option is to use a timer to automate on/off at night.

8. Be Weather Aware

Avoid hanging lights in bad winter weather. If it’s raining, icy or there’s snow on your roof, don’t go up. Snow falling off the roof can easily kick you off the ladder, and wet weather increases the risk for electrocution.

9. Don’t Use Extension Cords Where You Walk

Extension cords are a tripping hazard. It’s best to avoid running cords through any area where they can be walked on. If you can, tuck extension cords near the home’s foundation, away from walk-ways.

10. Don’t Hang Your Lights at Night

It can be tempting to want to hang your lights at dusk, so you can admire your handy work. Yet, dark conditions increase the risk for a range of injuries, from falls to electrocution. It’s best to hang lights during the day.

11. Choose the Right Lights

Christmas lights are rated indoor or outdoor. If you’ll be hanging lights outside, be sure they’re rated for outdoor use. One tip: Consider using weather-resistant lights. This will help prevent shorts.

12. Install UL Lights

No matter the types of lights you’ll be installing – whether incandescent or LED, or store-bought or commercial-grade – choose lights that are UL approved. The UL seal on the lights means the lights meet safety standards from the American National Standards Institute. Cheap, knock-off lights may not meet these standards.

13. Use An Outdoor Rated Extension Cord

Indoor-rated extension cords aren’t designed to be exposed to wet conditions. As a result, they can be a fire hazard. Be sure you’re using an outdoor-use extension cord.

14. Consider Professional Help

Hiring professional Christmas light installers can help you avoid risk entirely. Professional installers will help you avoid ladders and shocks, and ensure your home looks great. One tip: Choose a company that’s fully licensed and insured.

Get help with your Christmas light installation! Clean and Clear Lighting provides installations throughout the Twin Cities. Learn more about our holiday lighting installation services or call for a free estimate.

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We install outdoor holiday lights throughout the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metro. Contact us today for a quick estimate or to schedule an appointment!