Safety Tips For Stringing Christmas Lights

Most of us can recall Chevy Chase struggling to decorate his house with Christmas lights in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. It's an iconic scene that involves him using a staple gun to fix the string of lights to the roof and even part of himself. He falls off the roof into a bush, hung helplessly onto his gutter, fell from the ladder and had several meltdowns when the darn things wouldn't light, but eventually, and to the dismay of his neighbors, he finally succeeds.

While humorous in the movie, the hijinks attempt to make light of an actual serious topic. Every year the Consumer Product Safety Commission reports about 15,000 injuries due to holiday decorating mishaps, some of them fatal. Following some of these simple safety guidelines can help keep you safe and your house the next tourist attraction.


Inspect your ladder to ensure it locks into place securely and that there is no damage to the legs or steps. Keep the ladder on a hard, level surface so it will not tip. Use a ladder that extends past your working area. Generally it is not a good idea to utilize the very top steps. Maintain three points of contact; that is both feet on the step and one hand holding the side of the ladder or something else that is firmly in place for support. The gutter does not count.


Inspect your string of lights on the ground and fix any tangles before beginning to hang them. Test them to ensure they work and no bulbs are burnt out or missing. If you plan to use them outside make sure they are safe for outdoor use. Check any extension cords you plan to use for cuts. Do not use any cord or light set if there is damage to the wire. They may not work and they increase the risk of electrical shock or getting wet. You can use a piece of electrical tape on the ends of any unused light set female plug to keep water out. Use hooks, not a staple gun, to secure light sets. Lastly, plug your electrical decor and lights into a GFCI outlet, these are designed to shut off in case of a fault.

Now, bring forth the carols and decorate!