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8 Safety Tips for Hanging Outdoor Lights

Home with white Christmas lights on during winter night.

Holiday lights help make the season merry and bright, but hanging them can come with some risks if you don’t know how to do things safely. Luckily, we’ve got all the information you need to get your lights just right. Follow these eight tips on how to hang Christmas lights to ensure a holly jolly holiday for all with safe and spectacular scenery.

1.    Check the Weather

Before you start hanging Christmas lights outdoors, check the weather forecast in your local area. Make plans to hang lights when the weather is dry, and windy conditions are non-existent or at a minimum. Don’t attempt to hang lights if there is any precipitation, wind gusts, snow, or ice forming on your roof.

2.    Use Ladders Safely

If you’re using a ladder to hang lights, follow proper ladder safety rules:

  • Inspect the ladder before you set it up. Specifically, be on the lookout for any cracks or damage to the rungs that could cause you to slip.
  • Wear a pair of non-slip shoes. 
  • Get help from a trusted friend or family member to hold the ladder stable for you.

When climbing or descending a ladder, always use both hands and keep three limbs on the ladder at all times. Move slowly, and never climb higher than the third or fourth rung from the top of the ladder itself.

3.    Inspect Lights Before Hanging

Whether your holiday lights are brand new or have been in storage for the past year, it's important to examine them carefully before hanging them. Start by making sure the lights you have are rated for outdoor use. Likewise, look for signs of damage, such as frayed wires or missing bulbs. Never hang damaged lights on your house, as they can pose a risk of an electrical fire.

If you’re buying lights to hang outdoors, opt for LED lights whenever possible. These are not only more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs, but they also put out significantly less heat. While shopping for lights, you may also want to look for boxes that are labeled with a "UL Safety Certification." These lights are designed to meet strict safety regulations, which can give you some added peace of mind.

4.    Don't Overload Electrical Circuits

Don’t plug in more than three sets of lights to a single extension cord. And, confirm that any extension cords you're using are exclusively rated for outdoor use. When using outdoor power strips for your holiday lights, it's also a good idea to cross-check the specific wattage of your lights with the maximum wattage recommended for your power strip. Again, this is where sticking with low-wattage LED lights can simplify your life.

Christmas lights outline the front porches and leafless trees of a row of grey and white homes at night.

5.    Know When to Hire a Pro

Hanging your own holiday lights can be very rewarding; however, you must recognize when hanging your own lights is more of a hazard than it's worth. If you don't feel 100% confident tackling a project yourself, like figuring out how to hang Christmas lights without gutters, remember that there's nothing wrong with hiring a handyman or other professional to handle it for you. At the end of the day, the most important thing is your health and safety!

Hanging Christmas lights isn't the only task you may need to avoid tackling alone. Check out when to DIY vs when to hire a pro

6. Secure Outdoor Connections

Ensure a safe and reliable display by securing outdoor electrical connections. Use weather-resistant covers for plug points and connectors to shield them from the elements. This additional step protects against moisture, preventing potential short circuits and enhancing the longevity of your holiday lights. Regularly check these connections throughout the season, especially after severe weather, to guarantee continuous and hazard-free festive illumination. By incorporating this precaution into your setup, you'll contribute to a seamless and worry-free holiday lighting experience.

7. Be Mindful of Installation Heights

When installing lights, be mindful of the height to avoid interference with utility lines. Maintain a safe distance to prevent accidental contact with power lines or other utilities. This precaution ensures the safety of your decorations and minimizes the risk of electrical hazards. Prioritize installing lights in areas where they won't come in contact with overhead wires.

8. Have a Timely Removal Process

When the festive season comes to an end, don't overlook the importance of timely light removal. Take down your holiday lights promptly to prevent any potential damage caused by prolonged exposure to the elements. Sun, rain, and snow can affect the condition of the lights and increase the risk of electrical issues. Timely removal not only safeguards your decorations for the next season but also reduces the chances of safety hazards associated with leaving lights up for an extended period.

Beyond Hanging Christmas Lights Safely: More Holiday Safety Tips

By using some common-sense precautions for hanging Christmas lights safely, you can keep yourself safe and reduce the risk of an electrical fire at your home. Looking for more fire safety and prevention tips for your home this season? Check out our blog post, “Holiday Home Fire Safety & Prevention.”