Decorations and holidays go hand in hand, but do you know how to decorate safely? Here are a few tips to prevent a decorating disaster this holiday season:

Check Your Lights and Electric Decorations for Damage
Do you remember exactly when you bought those lights that have been in your garage since you moved in? There’s no harm in using last year’s (or many years ago’s) holiday decorations, but be sure to inspect the wiring before plugging them in. Frayed or damaged wires can spark and cause electrical fires. Even Santa checks his list twice, so make sure to do the same with your wiring!

Use Extra Protection on Outdoor Lights

Outdoor lights and decorations look beautiful to neighbors and people passing by, and with a little extra work, they can be safe as well. Make sure that all extension cords used for outdoor decorations are marked specifically for outdoor use. These come with extra insulation to help protect against the rain, sleet, snow and ice. Ensure that outdoor decorations are plugged into circuits with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), which are essentially fast-acting circuit breakers. These will help to prevent electric shock and reduce the risk of fires. In addition, make sure all plugs and sockets are protected from the rain and snow.

Use the “Touch Test”

It’s easy to accidentally overload electrical sockets with too many decorations, which can cause a fire if left too long. Occasionally perform a “touch test” on your cords and plugs — if it’s hot to the touch, you might have too many decorations plugged in. Unplug the hot cords and let them cool off, and try spacing out your plugs before turning them back on.