Given that Christmas is right around the corner, it’s likely that your home is currently sporting several strands of twinkling holiday lights. Fairy lights are popular all year ‘round, but they are EVERYWHERE at this time of year. That’s why it’s time to have a conversation about Christmas light safety. You might not think so automatically, but these little lights, which come in strands ranging from ten to hundreds, are a potential fire hazard. And that’s not even the only danger in hanging holiday lights. 

Are they safety-tested?

The first thing you should do with your Christmas lights is verify that they have been safety-tested. Most lights that you buy at Target or Wal-Mart are probably in the clear, but use caution when buying lights online at prices that seem too good to be true. Products certified by the Underwriters Laboratories, a popular independent testing facility, will have the mark "UL." When in doubt, check online reviews. 

Did you buy the right kind?

Also important: check whether your lights are labeled for indoor and/or outdoor use. Bringing indoor lights outside is not recommended, as they lack proper sealant against rain and other weather. This means that these lights could short out and fail, or even cause an electricity hazard. 

Is your ladder anchored correctly?

Once you have your lights, be cautious while decking the halls. Especially in cold weather, the rungs of your ladder could be slippery. Even under the best weather conditions, climbing up to hang lights can be fraught with danger if you don’t anchor your ladder correctly. Ladder falls can be deadly, so make sure that you always size yours up before climbing.

Are your electric circuits up to the task? 

Another rookie Christmas light mistake is overloading your outlets with too many plugs. Each outlet inside (and outside) your home is designed to only handle so many amps. If you overload the outlet with multiple plugs or extension cords, you are looking at potentially blowing out the outlet, which can cause a fire. 

Do you have a way to store them correctly?

Lastly, when you go to de-deck the halls after Christmas, be sure that you store your lights correctly. Throwing them in a box in one big bundle is a sure way to guarantee a lot of dead bulbs next winter. The process of detangling light strands is not only tedious, but the strain it puts on the light cables can cause tearing and fraying. Wrapping the light strands around your arm and putting them away neatly and carefully can save on money, but also on safety.