For many homeowners, one of the most anticipated traditions of the holiday season is stringing decorative lights inside and outside the home, on trees, in bushes and just about anywhere else. Putting the lights in place can be just as enjoyable as basking in the glow of the finished display, but as with any task that involves electricity, it’s important to put safety first.

Be sure to observe these simple tips to make your holiday decorating a safe and fun experience for the whole family:

  • Check for damage.Before plugging in any strings of lights or lighted decorations, carefully inspect them for frayed wires, broken sockets or other damage. Some damage can be successfully repaired, but it’s usually best to discard damaged lights and replace them entirely.
  • Keep walkways clear. Never run cords, cables or strings of lights across driveways, sidewalks, stairs or anywhere they could present a tripping hazard.
  • Keep wires intact. Avoid running lights or cords around door frames or under carpets, as this presents opportunities to puncture or tear the sheaths and expose wires, creating a fire risk.
  • Respect the elements. When decorating outdoors, only use lights, extension cords and surge protectors that are specifically rated for outdoor use.
  • Don’t mix electric lights and metal. Stringing lights on an aluminum tree or other metal structure can pose a serious electrocution risk in the event of unnoticed damage to wires or sockets.
  • Keep your balance. When using ladders or stepstools, ensure that they’re placed on an even surface. Climbers should always wear non-slip shoes and work with the help of a spotter to hold the ladder steady.
  • Keep it cool. LEDs produce far less heat than traditional incandescent lights, and therefore pose a smaller fire risk, especially when used on live trees. LEDs are also less expensive to operate.

In addition to using LEDs, there are a few other ways you can save money with your holiday decorating. Consider using a timer to ensure that your lights only run between sundown and bedtime, which will help keep your energy bills under control. And be sure to invest in sturdy storage containers to protect your lights and other delicate decorations when they’re packed away.

These tips will help you keep your home and family safe throughout the holidays, but if you ever need additional help planning your electrical light display or with other electrical issues, contact an experienced and licensed electrician.

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