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Holiday Lighting Safety and Storage Tips


Whether you're late to the game in putting up your lights this year or are considering the best ways to store them after taking them down in a couple of weeks, it's important to understand best practices for holiday lights. Read on for expert tips on how to safely put up, take down and store your lights.

Purchasing and Prepping

Double check that the lights you already own or the new ones you buy have been tested for safety. The lights should have an Underwriters Laboratories (UL) label. UL is the leading product safety testing and certification agency for most electronics.

The UL label will also tell you whether the lights are intended for use indoors or outdoors. You can tell simply by checking the color of the label. A green holographic UL mark indicates the lights should only be used indoors, while a red tag signifies that the product is safe for both indoor and outdoor use.

You should also consider switching all of your holiday lights to LED lights. These not only last longer, but they also stay cool to the touch while in use, which lowers potential fire hazards.

Before you hang up your lights, check each set for broken or cracked sockets, loose connections or frayed wires. You should also make it a habit to examine your light set periodically for this once they have been hung - especially if your lights are outdoors, where they have a higher chance of being damaged.

Installation, Maintenance and Storage

When plugging in your holiday lights, avoid overloading outlets or extension cords. It may go without saying, but be sure to keep cords out of water and away from metal objects. Use a three-pronged grounded extension cord with the UL label to safely plug in your lights, and uncoil the cords completely before using. If you will be hanging lights beyond your reach, you can reduce your risk of electric shock by avoiding metal ladders and using ladders made of non-conductive materials (wood or fiberglass-reinforced plastic) instead.

Though you may want your neighbors to enjoy your holiday lights in your absence, never leave your decorative lighting turned on when leaving the house or going to bed. This opens the door to a major fire hazard should anything go wrong while you are unable to attend to it immediately.

Storing your lights properly can help you avoid broken bulbs, frayed wires and potential electrical hazards next year. Cut a piece of cardboard to about the size of a magazine and cut a slit in one end. Slide one of the ends of the strand lights in the slit and begin wrapping around the long edge of the cardboard until you run out of lights. Plug the loose end into the plug to keep your stash together, and store in a watertight container. Keep your lights in a cool, dry place until next year.

Need help troubleshooting home electrical issues this winter season? The licensed electricians at David Gray Electrical can ensure a happy holiday by examining your home system for optimal safety and performance. To learn more, call (904) 605-8190 or visit our website at