Hang holiday lights safely

            Whether you hung your holiday lights the day after Halloween or are saving the chore for Christmas Eve, keep safety in mind.

            Here are 10 ways to prevent a decorations-induced fire that can ruin your family’s holiday—and your home.

  1. Replace old strands. It’s a pain to constantly have to replace a burned-out bulb here and there because it’s preventing the rest of the lights on a strand from twinkling. More important, however, is the fire hazard that a defective strand poses. If your strands are damaged in any way, replace them.
  2. Decorate with LED lights. They’re cooler to the touch than the old versions, which emit more heat than light, and that makes them safer. Plus, you’ll pay less for electricity because LEDs are more energy-efficient and longer-lasting than traditional light strands.
  3. Those extension cords that you use to get electricity to your roof aren’t as sturdy as they could be. Two rules for using them: First, choose extension cords that are designed for outdoor use; second, don’t plug more than three strands of lights into a single extension cord.
  4. Don’t cheap out. Invest in a good set of lights that come with a UL safety certification. Don’t trust uncertified strands to burn safely this season.
  5. Water your Christmas tree every day. A dry tree paired with an old light strand is an invitation for fire.
  6. Never nail or screw lights to the roof. Instead, use light clips. They won’t damage your roof or pierce the wires that hold the lights together.
  7. Keep the windows closed. It’s a big mistake to run outdoor lights through windows or doors so you can plug them into indoor electrical outlets. Closing the window on a light strand can damage the wire.
  8. Install GFCI outlets around the outside of your house. GFCIs prevent electrical shocks when you use electricity near water—like rain or snow.
  9. Program a timer. Even cool-to-the-touch LED lights can overheat if you leave them on all day and all night. Fix your strands to timers that will turn them on at dusk and off at bedtime.
  10. Store your lights safely. Choose plastic or metal containers that you can close up tight to keep out both water and critters until next December.