Holiday Electrical Safety


Holiday lights and electrical decorations create holiday cheer both inside and outside the home, but they can also create fire hazards and electrical shock risks if they are not handled properly. The Home Safety Council recommends taking the following precautions while decorating your home this year:


  1. Inspect holiday lights and extension cords before decorating. Replace any that are fraying or damaged. Pay special attention to lights, cords or decorations that may have been damaged from winter weather conditions.
  2. Check for red or green UL (Underwriter's Laboratory) marks on all light strings and extension cords. The green holographic UL mark means the light strings should be used only indoors. The red holographic UL mark indicates the light strings can be used both inside and out – and can withstand conditions related to outdoor use.
  3. Follow manufacturer’s guidelines for stringing light sets together. As a general rule, UL recommends using no more than three standard-size sets of lights together.
  4. Hang or mount light strands carefully to avoid damaging the cord’s insulation.
  5. Do not overload extension cords or electrical receptacles.
  6. Unplug all holiday lights when you go to sleep or leave home.
  7. Plug outdoor decorations into outlets protected by Ground Fault Circuit interrupters (GFCIs) to prevent shock.
  8. Automatic lighting timers can be used to ensure that lights are not left on. These are available for both indoor and outdoor use.
  9. Roll up excess electrical cords and keep them away from high traffic areas. Do not run electrical cords under rugs.
  10. Never keep an extension cord plugged in when it is not in use.
  11. When replacing a light bulb, be sure to use the correct bulb size (wattage) for the fixture.