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How To Put Up Christmas Lights Safely

Always examine your Christmas lights for damage and burned out bulbs before installing them

Always examine your Christmas lights for damage and burned out bulbs before installing them

It’s that time of year again. Homeowners start getting out the Christmas decorations and perusing the colorful store displays for new ones. Christmas lights figure prominently in almost every decorating scheme. Unfortunately, every year accidents happen because of Christmas lights. Fires cause tragic loss because Christmas lights were hung improperly or the wrong type were installed. Christmas lights come in an ever-widening array of designs, sizes and types but they all should be installed with the following guidelines in mind.

  1. Never connect more sets together end to end than the manufacturer’s instructions allow.
  2. Always plug the light sets into an electrical circuit protected by a GFCI ground fault circuit interrupter outlet. These outlets have a test and reset button on the front.
  3. Do not hang the light sets on leaves, needles, branches or trees that are metal.
  4. Never use nails, staples, hooks or any other sharp fasteners to hang light sets.
  5. Always use the plastic clips provided or purchase them separately.
  6. Never cover part or all of the light sets with flammable materials such as cloth or paper.
  7. Inspect each light set before each use, examining it for frayed or damaged cords and cracked or broken bulbs and sockets.
  8. Do not use light sets designed only for indoor use outdoors.
  9. Even though you may use outdoor-rated light sets outside, you should still protect the plugs from the weather by covering them up with plastic or a container.
  10. Do not allow the plugs to rest in standing water.
  11. Do not subject the light set wires to pinching, kinking or sharp bending.
  12. Plug outdoor light sets into a multiple light set box on a stake rated for the purpose.
  13. If you need to use extension cords, verify that they are properly rated for the number of light sets and the distance involved.
  14. Make certain that the extension cord is plugged into a GFCI outlet.
  15. If your light set has a blown fuse, replace it and then test the lights before installing them.
  16. If a fuse does blow, always examine the light set to determine if a defect caused the fuse to burn out.


If you will be installing Christmas light sets at heights such as on roof lines, use a good sturdy ladder that is situated on a flat, stable, secure surface and is properly secured to the structure or is held by an assistant.

Leave the lights unplugged until you have strung them. Then climb down off the ladder and plug them in.

Be sure to test your light sets before you begin installing them.

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