Decorative lighting safety tips for the holidays

Published 10:00 am Thursday, November 30, 2023

According to the National Fire Protection Association, Christmas lights alarmingly cause 40 percent of Christmas tree fires. NFPA also reports that each year, U.S. fire departments respond to an average of 790 home structure fires caused by seasonal decorations. Without proper preparation and installation, a fun, holiday activity can turn tragic.

Keep the holiday season jolly and free of injuries by following these safety tips from Entergy Mississippi.


Inside lighting:

  • Make sure live trees are fresh with needles that are hard to pull from the branches.
  • Place the tree in a stand with water away from heaters or the fireplace. Be sure to check on the water daily.
  • Examine all lights before putting them on the tree or using them for other holiday displays. Do not use lights with frayed wiring or loose sockets, and make sure they have been tested for safety by an independent testing laboratory.
  • Save energy and money by using smaller, cool-burning LED lights.
  • Make sure all light sockets have bulbs in them and keep bulbs from touching tree branches.
  • Never burn candles on or near the tree and never use flammable decorations.
  • Never use lights on a metallic tree. If the lights become faulty, the entire tree could be electrified.
  • Be careful not to overload extension cords, outlets or even whole circuits in the house.
  • Turn off decorative lighting when you leave the room.
  • Place wires where they cannot trip anyone, and do not run wires under rugs.

Outside lighting:

  • Make sure the lights used are designated for outdoor use.
  • Use a non-conducting fiberglass or wooden ladder when working with strings of lights. Also, stay clear of all overhead wires.
  • Do not replace bulbs when the electricity is on.
  • Never let light bulbs touch flammable materials such as plastic, or dry grass and leaves.
  • For outside use, work only with three-wire grounded extension cords.
  • Use rubber gaskets in light sockets or hang sockets downward to keep water out.
  • Keep connections and lights off the ground by hanging them over wooden stakes.
  • Turn outside holiday lights off when away from home or asleep.

For more tips on how to practice lighting and decoration safety during the holiday season, visit the National Fire Protection Association website