Christmas Light Safety 101: What You Need to Know

These Christmas light safety tips prevent accidents and stress by focusing on your protection to keep holiday light displays merry and bright.

Christmas Light Safety

Magical light shows in any neighbourhood make the holiday season bright. People decorate trees, homes, and even cars with them today.

These illuminating decorations are not risk-free, however. Hazards such as falls, electrocution, and electrical shorts are real possibilities. However, you can avoid those dangerous situations while decorating with proper preparation and Christmas light safety practices.

We have been building the Rusty Griswold Light Display since 2015. As a result, have come across a number of safety-related scenarios. Here are a few Christmas safety tips we would like to share to keep you and your audience a little bit safer this year.

Beware Of Broken Bulbs

An empty outlet due to a missing or broken bulb can lead to shocks, fires, or cuts. Always ensure your bulb’s integrity is in check. As obvious as this may seem, this issue is our top Christmas light safety tip when it comes to addressing holiday lighting safety.

Replace Old Lights – Christmas Light Safety

A focus on Christmas light safety measures when using holiday lighting includes replacing any missing or broken bulbs. Most dancing lights purchased from big box stores come with replacement bulbs. If you run out you can also buy them at your local home improvement store.

Use The Correct Ladder

For those high-to-reach areas, you will undoubtedly use a ladder. The type of ladder you use matters. Metal ladders conduct electricity which can lead to shocks. Whenever possible, use a non-conductive ladder when hanging lights. Also, keep in mind that ladder rungs (steps) can be slippery in the winter season. Don’t take things for granted when you consider heights in your Christmas light safety.

Indoor and Outdoor Lights – Know the Difference

Never use indoor winter lights, outdoors. Outdoor winter lights have been engineered to resist moisture. Always look for a UL certification in the United States or cUL marking in Canada. This certification mark clarifies that the product has passed the safety certification process in your respective region. Using regionally certified components ensures you remain focused on Christmas light safety.

Keep Your Cords Dry

Try to keep all cord plugs elevated, covered, and dry whenever possible. You especially want to avoid having them in puddles or snow. You can find inexpensive cord protectors that are designed to protect plugs. It is recommended that you use these protectors as well as part of your Christmas light safety best practice.

Prevent Exposed Tripping Hazards for Christmas Light Safety

You will inevitably have cords lying around. If you are using inflatables, there will also be tie-downs involved. Rest assured that little ones who are excited to see your lights will not be paying attention. These exposed cords cause a tripping hazard. You can secure the cables by using ground staples or tent pegs to prevent accidental trips. Christmas light safety is not just for us the builder/installer. We must consider our guests as well.

Take Down Your Lights at Season’s End

Don’t be that guy that leaves their lights up year-round. Most holiday lights are not designed for long-term use. On top of that, the UV rays from the sun will fade your bulbs and cause plastics to become brittle. You don’t want a plastic hook giving way mid-year, dropping a wreath on an unsuspecting person. Lastly, having a Santa on your lawn in the middle of July just looks tacky.

Know Your Outlet’s Limits

Never overload an electrical outlet with more than 80% of its capability. The Electrical Safety Foundation International recommends connecting no more than three sets of incandescent light strings together. Ensure you know the limits of your outlets and your lights before installing them. The power of electricity, along with its limitations, should never be taken for granted when considering Christmas light safety.

Use GFCI Outlets – Christmas Light Safety

A weather-resistant GFCI outlet, perfect for Christmas light safety.

GFCI outlets are special circuit breakers that automatically shut off power at the outlet when they detect an electrical fault. If your outlet is not GFCI-rated, waterproof in-line adapters are available. Just make sure if you use one, it is rated for at least 15 Amps and 1875 watts in North America.

There are many more Christmas light safety-related items to be aware of when building your display. This is our Top nine. Have an obvious safety tip we missed? Be sure to share it in the comments section below!

Note: Neither Rusty Griswold’s Light Display nor its family members are certified electricians. All values and certifications listed within this article or website should be independently verified by a certified electrician. We are not liable for any issue or problem that may arise as a result of the advice provided in this article or anywhere else on this website. We take Christmas Light safety seriously and have shared this as an opinion piece only.


  • Rusty Griswold

    Since 2015, I have been building my light display to celebrate the holiday season and experimenting with various recipes to bring people together around the table. I have learned many do's and don'ts in both areas along the way, and share them with everyone via the website. M Mike
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