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Holiday Lighting Safety Tips

Photo closeup of a small clear holiday twinkle-light.
While safety is your first concern, don't forget about energy efficiency when you brighten your holiday decor with lighting.

Holiday lights can add to your seasonal celebrations, but they can also increase your risk of a house fire. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, holiday lights and decorations cause nearly 400 house fires each year. The following tips can help keep your family bright, happy, and safe this holiday season.

  • Use holiday lights that are approved by a nationally recognized testing organization, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).

  • Before hanging your lights, inspect them for frayed wires, broken sockets, or other signs of wear and tear.

  • Avoid connecting more than three strings of lights together unless the directions indicate otherwise.

  • When using extension cords, avoid routing them under rugs or near walkways.

  • If you decorate a real tree, water it every day and prevent the lights from coming into contact with tree branches.

  • If you choose an artificial tree, make sure it's certified as fire-resistant. Look for the UL label.

  • For outdoor decorating, only use lights and power strips that have been approved for outdoor use.

  • Keep electrical connections off the ground and make sure wiring is clear of downspouts, railings, and aluminum siding.

  • Fasten holiday lights securely to buildings, trees, and other outdoor surfaces to prevent damage from wind or jostling.

  • Be careful when using metal staples or nails as fasteners. They can damage the protective insulation covering the wires.

  • Turn off lights late at night or whenever you are away from home. Consider using a timer.

While safety is your first concern, don't forget about energy efficiency. LED lights use up to 80% less energy than traditional lights, and they have a longer lifespan. LEDs are also cool to the touch, reducing the risk of fire. Look for LEDs that are ENERGY STAR® certified.


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