How to Light Up Your Home for the Holidays

By Shannon Wilson


While decorating for the holidays, it’s important to know the safety risks that come with it.

Photo: Toni Cuenca on Unsplash

Nothing says the holidays like festive lights and larger than life decorations! Though it’s important to know the safety risks that come with it. Taking precautions in advance will make sure your holidays are both safe and bright.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, or NFPA, the U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 840 home structure fires per year between 2011 and 2015 that began with decorations, excluding Christmas trees.

While that may not seem like a lot, it is possible. Taking these three steps to make sure it doesn’t happen to you will be worthwhile in the end.

1. Check cords

Before hanging up any lights, check the strings for cracked cords, loose connections or frayed ends. Make sure to buy the right type of lights for both outdoors and indoors, because the two are not interchangeable. Outdoor lights are made to be structurally stronger and are sealed so they can handle the wet winter weather.

2. Use safe electrical outlets and sources

Inspect all electrical outlets and plugs, because cracked or damaged sockets, bare wires, and loose connections can result in shock or even start a fire. Plug all lights and decorations into surge protectors to minimize damage in case of voltage fluctuation.

3. Don’t keep your lights on 24/7

While it may be tempting to leave your lights on all night, experts recommend turning off all indoor and outdoor lights before leaving the house and going to sleep. Set a timer for your lights so you don’t have to worry as much!

4. Don’t leave open flames unattended

From sugar cookie and gingerbread, to pine and fir, candles are a great way to make the house smell like Christmas. They can also be the perfect antidote for a fire. If you use candles, never leave an open flame unattended, and only burn candles when you’re around. Never use a candle by a tree or other flammable accessories. And most importantly, blow them out before you leave the room and go to sleep.

5. Consider using LED lights

An alternative choice for lighting is using LED lights. LED lights are a smart choice because they produce less heat than traditional lights and use less energy, thus are less of a fire hazard.

chris benson xmas tree
Photo credit: Chris Benson on Unsplash

Tree Safety

According NFPA, the U.S. fire departments responded to an average 200 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year, between 2011 and 2015.

While having a real tree has its benefits, it’s also a major fire hazard. If you opt for a real tree, make sure it’s fresh and well-watered. Once the tree dies out, remove it immediately, as it becomes a fire hazard regardless of whether or not you’re still using it.

Artificial trees are safer, and are usually made with fire-resistant materials. Regardless of the type of tree you decide to get, keep them at least three feet away from any heat source, including light sockets and fireplaces.

While taking the extra time do check your decorations may be a little tedious, it will be worth it in the long run when you light up your house figuratively, not literally.

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Shannon Wilson is a Digital Content Associate for Builders Digital Experience (BDX). Her main role is to create video content, write and edit articles for and

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