10 Holiday Lighting Safety Tips You Need in 2023

Vibrant Christmas Lights Illuminating a Festive Atmosphere on the Floor.

As the holiday season gets closer, many families have begun to decorate the inside and outside of their homes with colorful holiday lighting. While holiday lights may look beautiful, they can present fire hazards if you don’t take safety precautions. Read below for the ten best holiday lighting safety tips to keep you and your home safe 

Understand the Dangers of Holiday Decorating 

According to the National Fire Protection Association, on average 790 homes catch on fire every year due to holiday decorations. Of the homes that catch on fire, one in five are started by Christmas tree lights or candles. Even though it's fun to decorate your home, you need to understand the dangers of what can happen if no safety measures are implemented. Here are some holiday lighting safety tips to keep you on track:

Tip #1: Indoor vs Outdoor Holiday Lights 

It is recommended not to use indoor Christmas lights outside and vice versa. Outside lighting is designed specifically for exterior use, which can withstand exposure to rain, ice, snow, and storms. In addition, using indoor lights outside will cause damage and lead to fires.  

Milton’s Pro Tip: Organize your indoor and outdoor lighting into different storage bins to ensure you don’t mix them up when it gets closer to the holiday season. 

Tip #2: Toss out broken or old lights. 

Make sure to throw out any decorative holiday lighting with exposed wires, frayed or cracked cords, or broken bulbs. The cost of replacing a few decorations is far less compared to the cost associated with fires or other accidents. 

Milton’s Pro Tip: Retailers like Lowes and The Home Depot accept broken Christmas tree holiday lights to recycle during the holiday season. Consider recycling your holiday lights instead of throwing them out in the trash. 

Tip #3: Consider replacing incandescent lighting with LED lighting. 

Light-emitting diode (LED) lights utilize less energy and are generally considered a safer option than traditional incandescent lights. LED lights also don’t get as hot and are less likely to overheat. Furthermore, they are a more cost-efficient option, lasting longer, and consuming less energy. 

When purchasing any type of new lighting, be sure to only buy lights approved by an OSHA-certified laboratory, such as the Underwriters Laboratory (UL). 

Milton’s Pro Tip: Retailers will sometimes offer promotions to encourage customers to swap out any of their incandescent lighting with energy-efficient LEDs. Check in with your local stores to see if this option is available for you! 

Tip #4: Understand LED light safety. 

The number of light strings that can be combined (plugged in together) varies based on the wattage of a particular light string and the amperage of your home’s electrical circuit. Because LED lights consume less power, you can generally plug more LED light strings together compared to incandescent light strings.  

Milton’s Pro Tip: Look for the UL note on the lighting box. It should indicate the number of lights that can be safely strung together. 

Tip #5: Don’t combine LED light strings and incandescent light strings.

Christmas star light. Light strings are made in a series that have the same current running through each light on a particular string. Incandescent lights draw more current than LED lights. If you combine incandescent and LED light strings, the extra current will likely damage the LED lights and potentially cause a fire. 

Milton’s Pro Tip: LED Christmas and holiday lights are known for their durability and longevity. Consider opting for LED Christmas lights this year!

Tip #6: Real vs Artificial Tree 

If you plan to decorate a Christmas tree or Hanukkah bush, first decide if you are using a real or fake tree. If you opt for a real Christmas tree, select a fresh one with springy needles that are difficult to pull out. Always water your tree, as the drier it gets, the more likely it is to catch on fire. 

Milton’s Pro Tip: If you opt for an artificial tree, select one labeled “fire-retardant.” It is important to realize that fire retardant trees can still catch fire, but they will be extinguished quicker and resist burning compared to traditional artificial trees. 

Tip #7: Ground outdoor Christmas light decorations.

Whether you add outdoor string lights to your bushes, trees, fence, or back deck, always plug them into a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet 

Milton's Pro Tip: Install GFCI outlets throughout your home as they offer protection from electrical shock. 

Tip #8: Flip the switch before you leave. 

Before leaving your home, be sure to turn off all decorative holiday lighting. This will prevent the possibility of lights overheating while you’re away. 

Milton’s Pro Tip: Consider plugging your Christmas lights into a timer so they will turn off automatically every night before you go to bed. 

Tip #9: Use caution with extension cords. 

If you’re utilizing extension cords for indoor or outdoor lights, observe the maximum wattage guidelines on the label. Extension cords can overheat when too many items are plugged in.  

When in doubt, try the “touch test” - unplug any extension cord that feels hot to the touch. Extension cords can also be a trip hazard potentially causing twisted ankles, broken limbs, lacerations, and even concussions.  

Milton’s Pro Tip: Be sure to tuck extension cords out of the way, or tape them down to reduce the risk of injuries. 

Tip #10: Be cautious around power lines. 

Do not put any holiday decorations or holiday lights near any power lines. Keep your safety in mind when decorating for Christmas and other holidays outside. If you have any questions regarding outdoor light installation and safety, contact Milton Electric today  

Milton’s Pro Tip: Putting any object near a power line poses safety hazards. Steer clear of all power lines. 



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The Do's and Don'ts of Holiday Lighting