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5 Safety Tips for Outdoor Christmas Lighting

December brings the anticipation of another Christmas season. What better way to welcome it than to brighten your front yards and lawns with the warm glow of outdoor Christmas lights? With these five safety tips for outdoor Christmas lighting, you'll have your porch or lawn brightly lit and decorated in no time.

Be ready with your tools

Before rushing outdoors with your hammers, ladders and kits, make sure that you have everything you need on your list and have your work well planned ahead.Where are you thinking about installing the lights? Where are the power outlets? What equipment will you need to do the installation? What possible hazards could there be? Figuring these out before hauling out tools and ladders ensures that the installation process is efficient and safe.

Test your Christmas lights

Pre-test your old Christmas lights and check that all bulbs are working properly. If you spot any that are blinking or failing to light, you can replace the faulty bulbs using a kit (our guide on how to replace Christmas light bulbs outlines the process in easy-to-follow steps). Look for broken or damaged wires, and throw the light string away if you spot any. Getting the wiring repaired will cost more than buying new Christmas lights.

If you decide to purchase new lights this year, make sure that they are safety approved by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or Electrical Testing Laboratories (ETL). You can also read our article on LED Christmas lights versus regular Christmas lights to help you decide which type of light is best for you.

Consider outdoor Christmas trees

An outdoor Christmas tree looks magical, but not all artificial trees are designed for the outdoors. Instead, make one out of the bushes or trees around your yard, if they are near a power source. You can also purchase a prelit outdoor Christmas tree. Unlike the average artificial tree, they are made of strong plastics and electrical wiring that can withstand the elements.

Install your lights

Never use nails or tacks to string up lights; instead, use hooks, clips, or insulated holders instead of nails or tacks. This will prevent damaging the wires and exposing it to hazards. Use a tool belt or apron with pockets to keep all your materials within your reach when installing your lights. Check that you have all the nails, clips, hooks and tools you need in each pocket before going out of your house and climbing that ladder.

Take special care to keep your lights away from electric lines, phone wires or cable lines. Hanging them near these power sources this may trigger an electric shock and may ignite flames. If you aren't confident about the safety of your light placement, consider asking the help of a certified electrician.

Pack away carefully

Before removing the lights, make sure that they have been turned off and the circuit is intact. Do not pull on the cords or wires; instead, carefully remove the light string going from plug to the end. Wrap the lights tightly before storage to avoid damaging the wiring.

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