Eight Tips for Safe Holiday Decorating

November 27, 2018

'Tis the season for decorating -- lights, candles, and a million other fun holiday decorations!

As you work to make your home festive, here are eight things to keep in mind so that your home is safe during the holidays.

Examine, examine, examine! 

Before you plug anything in -- lights, extension cords, inflatables, and any other holiday decor -- check for cracks, frayed ends, etc. 

Lights must have a UL seal. 

The UL seal means that the lights meet the national industry standards of the American National Standards Institute.

Climb with caution. 

Using a ladder? Make sure you choose one that is the correct height for the job and enlist the help of a friend to hold the ladder steady.

Stick to one extension cord. 

Never connect multiple extension cords. Use one cord that is long enough to reach the outlet without stretching.

Turn lights off. 

Never leave your home or go to bed with your holiday lights still on.

Keep your tree flame-free. 

According to the American Christmas Tree Association (ACTA), Christmas trees alone result in $13 million dollars of property damage each year. When picking out a tree, the ACTA advises taking home a freshly-cut one because they are less likely to catch fire. Fresh trees have vibrant green needles that are hard to pluck and don’t break easily. Regardless of how fresh your tree is, you should never put an open flame near it (think candle, fireplace, etc). 

Be aware of outdoor lights and weather hazards.

The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) offers this handy flyer that reminds us to use the right extension cords in the right places. Hanging lights outside? Then you need both lights and extension cords made specifically for the outdoors -- and you need to make sure to keep them protected from the elements and clear of snow and standing water. 

Don’t overdo it!

The ESFi also recommends connecting no more than three strings of incandescent lights together. If you're using LEDs, most UL labeled lights will tell you on the package how many strings of lights you can safely string together.