The holidays are nearly here, which means it's time to string up the lights. And while it doesn't take an electrician to get that job done, it doesn't hurt to think like an electrician - especially when it comes to safety.

Whenever you're using electricity, heat-producing lighting and power cords, it's a good idea to observe some basic precautions to avoid accidental shock, burns, fire and tripping hazards. This and every holiday decorating season, observe these simple tips for a safe and festive experience:

Inspect and Test

Before putting up any electrical holiday decorations, take time to thoroughly inspect them for damage. If you find frayed wires or signs of melted plastic, don't use those decorations - throw them away and replace them. If they appear to be in good condition, test them before hanging them up. There's nothing more frustrating than stringing up a strand of lights only to find out it's a dud!

Upgrade Your Lights

If your lights are showing signs of wear or you just feel it's time for an upgrade, consider switching to LEDs if you haven't already. LEDs are not only brighter and more energy efficient, they're safer because they produce almost no heat.

No Dry Trees

If you have a live tree, be sure to give it plenty of water. A dry tree can burn quickly, and any significant source of heat could pose a serious fire risk. Be especially careful to hydrate your tree if you're using lights, and never allow candles in the area of your tree stand.

Careful With the Cords

Be deliberate about where you run all cords and wires, including strands of lights. Never run cords across walking paths, as this can create an unsafe tripping hazard. You should also never run cords under rugs or through doorways, as this can cause damage that could lead to electrical shock or fire.

Stay on Your Feet

If you need a ladder to hang your lights, have a friend hold the ladder and act as a spotter. Wear non-slip shoes and make sure your ladder is locked into position on a level surface before climbing.

Right Lights for the Job

Most strands of lights are rated for either indoor or outdoor use. Indoor lights are not designed to withstand all-weather conditions, and in the worst-case scenario, using them outdoors can lead to electrical shock or a fire.

Any homeowner can observe these smart tips, but they might not address all of your holiday decorating challenges. If you find that you need new outlets installed to make your lighting scheme a reality, reach out to your licensed, local electricians while there's still time to decorate!

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