How to Hang Christmas Lights Safely

One of the most magical things about the holiday season is driving through neighborhoods to see the glittering Christmas lights on display against the night sky. While we all enjoy the festive glow of Christmas lights, they don’t get hung by themselves! There are some risks associated with hanging holiday lights outside your home, like falling off the ladder or causing an electrical fire. But don’t let that scare you from decking the halls! Keep reading for tips on how to hang Christmas lights like a pro.



Buying New Christmas Lights?

If you go to any home improvement or big box store to shop for holiday lights, you may be overwhelmed by the vast selection of offerings. You can shop by light technology, light style, and light color. Each category presents many different options. The right style depends on the look you are going for in combination with your budget and energy requirements.

If you’re buying new lights, choose shorter rather than longer light strings. This way, it’s easier and less expensive to replace if the string stops working. Light strings that have a female plug on one end and a male plug on the other are the best for joining together.

Helpful tip: Consider using the low-burning mini lights instead of the traditional larger bulbs. The traditional bulbs have a higher wattage and burn much hotter.


Source: Magic Madzik

Christmas Light Prep: Before You Go Outside

The first step in hanging Christmas lights is to plug them in to check that all the bulbs are working. Replace any burned out bulbs. Check the cords for fraying too. If they are frayed, throw them away! Damaged cords can cause an electrical short. It can damage your other holiday decorations and possibly start a fire.

Then map out where you want your lights to go to see if you have enough lights to cover the area. Use a long tape measure to calculate the number of strands needed. Remember to take into account all the windows, doors, trees, shrubs, etc.

Another thing to do before hanging your lights is to verify that they have the proper rating. Discount lights aren’t such a bargain if they present a fire hazard. Only use lights that have been tested and rated by Intertek (ETL Semko) or Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL). Lights that have a safety rating are clearly marked on both the packaging and the labels attached to the electrical cords like this:


Source: Electrical Online

Christmas Light Hanging Safety Tips

The best time to hang Christmas lights is when it’s not too wet or cold. It’s safer, easier and more comfortable to install holiday lights during mild weather. Climbing a slippery ladder onto your roof can be dangerous in bad weather!

Make sure you are using your lights as directed. Hopefully this is common sense, but you should only use indoor lights indoors, and outdoor lights outdoors.

You should also be careful when choosing locations to string lights. Do NOT hang lights anywhere near power lines! Do NOT hang indoor lights close to things like space heaters, candles, and fireplaces, either. This can cause a fire hazard. Also make sure the bulbs aren’t too close to loose paper or other flammable objects.


Source: Jeff Hester

Always work with a buddy for backup when hanging holiday lights or decorations from a roof or ladder. Also, make sure that your ladder is secure and level before stepping on it. Extend the ladder at least three feet beyond the edge in order to reach the roof. Do not step on the top two rungs of the ladder.

For every four feet of ladder height, space the base of the ladder one foot away from the wall. When standing on the ladder, stay centered between the rungs. Don’t overreach to hang lights or decorations. Move the ladder if necessary.

When hanging the lights, never use nails, tacks or staples. They can tear or pierce the protective insulation and create a fire hazard. Rather, use gutter clips especially designed for hanging string lights, as seen below:


Source: Christmas Lights Etc

After Hanging Your Lights

You’ll probably need extension cords to help hang your Christmas lights. Verify that your extension cords are long enough and that you have enough of them. Do NOT overload extension cords with a higher wattage than they are designed for. Also, remember to make sure your extension cords are being used properly. Like lights, only use indoor extension cords indoors and outdoor extension cords outdoors.

When plugging in extension cords, make sure that their location does not pose a tripping hazard. You never want your extension cords to be pulled taut. You don’t want a higher risk of them pulling over your Christmas tree or other decorations.

Now that you have your Christmas lights hung up safely, you can finally relax and enjoy the display.

What’s your favorite style of Christmas lights? Tell us in the comments below!