Outdoor Christmas Light Safety Guide

For the holidays, 86% of Americans decorate their houses. During the winter holiday season, house fires and electrical malfunctions are also more likely. It’s easy to ignore simple safety precautions when hanging holiday lights, especially with all of the hustle and bustle that comes with this time of year.

While holiday lights enhance the beauty of the season, it is vital that you and your family’s safety be a major priority.


Only utilize extension cables and electric decorations that are UL-listed. 

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is a nationally recognized independent product safety certification firm. The word “UL-listed” simply means that the Christmas lights you’re purchasing have been thoroughly tested and approved before being sold or installed.

Select Christmas lights that may be used both indoors and outside. 

A green holographic UL stamp on the tag suggests that the product is exclusively for indoor use, but a red mark suggests that it is suitable for both indoor and outdoor usage. Outdoor lights are waterproof, reducing the risk of electrical shock and fire.

Purchase a heavy-duty extension cable with a weatherproof rating. To avoid overloading, find out the wattage rating of your extension wire as well as the power requirements of any lights or decorations you intend to connect to it. An extension cable’s wattage rating indicates how much energy it can handle. If the overall power consumption of your lights and decorations exceeds that amount, overheating and fire may result.


Use a non-conductive ladder made of wood or fiberglass to hang Christmas lights outside. The use of a metal ladder increases the risk of receiving an electric shock. Make sure the ladder is sturdy and durable to ensure that it will hold up during use, especially at higher elevations.

Tie exterior lights to trees, houses, buildings, or other sturdy support to protect them from wind damage. Use light clips instead of nails or staples, which can pierce the protective insulation and provide an electrical hazard.

Connect your lights to a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlet. 

GFCI outlets protect against electrical shock. They’re required whenever there’s a risk of dampness, such as in the bathroom, kitchen, or outside the house.

Don’t leave your lights on all day, every day, for seven days a week. 

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, disconnect all lights and decorations before going to bed or leaving the house, as the lights may short and cause a fire. Invest in a timer for your Christmas lights to ensure that they turn off at the same time every time, even if you forget.


Always disconnect lights before changing bulbs or performing any other repairs to avoid electrical shock. Before utilizing lights, decorations, or extension cables, inspect them thoroughly, whether they are new or old. Damaged bulbs, frayed cables, and loose connections should all be examined for. If any damage is discovered, perform the necessary repairs or replacements.

If a bulb in a string of Christmas lights needs to be replaced, be that the replacement bulb’s wattage rating matches that of the light strand. Using a high-wattage bulb could damage the wire insulation, providing a fire risk.

Keep these safety tips in mind this Christmas season to ensure a stress-free holiday! If your home has been damaged by smoke or fire this Christmas season, call Restoration 1 of Columbus. We’re here to assist you!