holiday safety

Holiday lights and decorations are the symbols of the season. More than 86% of Americans decorate their homes for holiday celebrations. (2013 Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) Survey.) Decorations are beautiful and fun but it is important to be careful and follow these holiday safety tips so that you can enjoy the holidays with your family and not have to worry about anything else!

Holiday Lights

Before you put your lights up, be sure to check all cables for any fraying or cracked lines or broken sockets. These can lead to dangerous fire hazards or electrical injuries. If it seems questionable, get a new light set. Do not try fixing holiday lights on your own. Don’t attach lights with nails or staples which can damage the lines.

Replace burned out bulbs promptly. Light strings have specific voltage and a missing bulb can send too much volts to other bulbs, causing it to overheat. Consider LEDs instead of incandescent bulbs. They are much more energy efficient and are cool to the touch, reducing the chance of fires or burns. They are also made with epoxy lenses, not glass so they are much more durable.

Read all instructions for your lights. Never use indoor only lights outdoors or outdoor bulbs indoors, both can be an electrical or fire hazard. Be sure not to connect more than the recommended amount of strings together.

Use a sturdy ladder when putting lights up. HomeBase sells a wide range of ladders for all your holiday lighting needs! Do not walk on your roof or climb a tree. If your house is very tall, consider hiring a professional to hang your lights for you. A fall from a ladder can be very dangerous and result in broken bones or head injuries.

Be sure to take exterior lights down within 90 days and be sure to store them appropriately. Wrap the strings around a stiff piece of cardboard or wood, do not let them get tangled or the cords and bulbs can get damaged. Protect them with paper or fabric and store in a sturdy sealed container for next year.

Tree Safety

Fresh and green trees are less likely to catch on fire than a dry tree. Be sure your tree is fresh and keep it well watered. If you get an artificial tree, look for one that is fire resistant. Whether fresh or artificial, keep your tree at least 3 feet from fireplaces, heaters, radiators and other heat sources.

Decoration Safety

Avoid using candles whenever possible. If you must use a candle, do not leave open flames unattended. Place flames away from all flammable material and be sure to put them out before leaving the house or going to bed. Never use candles on or near trees. Consider using electric candles instead of burning candles. They can look almost as real and are much safer. Plus you can use them year after year!

If you have small children or pets, consider using plastic instead of glass ornaments. Glass ornaments can easily fall off and shatter while plastic will remain solid if they get dropped. Any glass ornaments or sharp objects should be placed up high, out of reach of children and pets. Small items such as holly berries and wax fruit and present a choking hazard for children and pets and string lights can be a risk of strangulation. To be safe, never leave children around holiday decorations unattended.

Extension Cord Safety

Examine all cords for damage. Replace any damaged cords, do not try to fix them.

Be sure you are using cords appropriately. Never use an indoor cord outdoors. Even though approved to be outside, keep outdoor extension cords away from snow, water, and the elements.

Do not overload extension cords or use them as permanent solution. They are made to be used temporarily.


Most information courtesy of Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI).