Practicing holiday light safety is the best way to prevent your holiday cheer from going up in flames. ‘Tis the season to be merry—not stressed, sad, or injured—and proper holiday light installation is the key to keeping your spirits bright and your loved ones safe. If you’re worried your holiday lighting routine might land you on Santa’s naughty list, keep reading to learn how to straighten up your act.

Test and Inspect First

Create a light plan. No lights should be hung near any power lines due to the risk of an electrical fire, so organize your design to avoid any dangerous areas. Measure the surfaces where you’ll be hanging lights to determine how many strands you need of each size and color.

Clean your roof and gutters if you are planning to hang lights on them. It doesn’t take much for dry leaves and twigs to catch fire, so make sure they are out of the way before lights go up.

Test all lights—old or new—before you hang them. You don’t want to spend hours creating the perfect winter wonderland only to find out some of your light strands don’t work. Additionally, you should look for any damaged wires or broken bulbs; these are extreme safety hazards. If you are at all in doubt about whether or not your lights are in good shape, buy new ones. Your peace of mind is worth the small, extra cost.

Use the Right Holiday Lights

tangled christmas lights

Check the labels on your lights. Any lights hung on your home’s exterior should be rated for outdoor usage and water resistance. Look for a UL seal on the label to indicate that the lights meet the regulations of the American National Standards Institute.

Choose the best bulbs. LEDs are safest because they are smaller and, therefore, don’t get as hot as other types, but they are also the most expensive. However, their cost is offset by the fact that they are much longer lasting than traditional incandescent bulbs. Incandescent bulbs are more customary and burn brighter, but they also pose a greater risk of overheating.

Take Ladder Safety Seriously

putting up christmas lights

Don’t use a wobbly ladder. Ladder injuries are very common, so if you must be on a ladder, make sure it’s a good one. All the rungs should be in good condition, and it should feel stable when you step onto it. Remember that no matter how nice your ladder is, it can only handle so much, so climb down and reposition the ladder rather than leaning or reaching too far from where you are standing to prevent the risk of toppling over.

Use the buddy system whenever you’re going more than a few rungs up on the ladder. If you’re hanging lights on high roofs or second-story windows, have a friend or family member work with you. They can help keep the ladder steady and spot you if you lose your balance.

Follow Electricity Rules

Never connect too many strands of lights directly together. For most standard lights, no more than three light strands should be plugged into one another. Use extension cords to prevent overly long chains of lights—just don’t forget that the extension cords must also be rated for outdoor use.

Plug lights into GFCI outlets. If you don’t already have enough outdoor outlets, an electrician can install more for you. Alternatively, you can purchase a portable outdoor unit, which is relatively inexpensive, if you only need the extra outlets for your light setup.

Set timers so you don’t have to rely on your memory to shut the lights on and off every night. Not only do timers conserve energy, but they also help avoid overheating by ensuring that lights will never accidentally be left on too long.

Following the tips above should keep you safe from any holiday light mishaps, but if you’re still worried your light installation techniques will earn you a lump of coal, hire one of our Best Pick electricians to put up your lights for you. The team at Best Pick Reports wishes you a happy and healthy holiday season!

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