Avoiding holiday fire hazards: Tips for Christmas light safety

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – We all love driving through the streets taking in the light extravaganza this time of year, but you don’t want to ruin that Christmas spirit by having your home go up in flames.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, 770 fires related to Christmas tree lights happen every year.

If you plan on decorating the outside of your house with lights, it will require a bit more detail to stay safe, said Lincoln Fire & Rescue Capt. Jonathan Reed.

“The first thing you want to make sure of is if your Christmas lights are rated for outdoor use,” he said. “There’s a logo on the bottom of every Christmas light that’s rated for exterior use. It will have a U-L on it; that’s Underwriters Laboratory. They test Christmas lights and certify that there good for use on the exterior.”

Christmas tree light enthusiast Abi Spradley says decorating for the holiday season brings an immense amount of joy to her family.

But safety is a primary concern with five kids in the house, so she uses a checkpoint system that’s LFR-approved.

“Before we even put a lightbulb or a single strand up, we plug them all in, we check them all, and we make sure that everything is in working order,” Spradley said. “Any that were not working all the way, I just got rid of it.”

Another safety tip is to make sure you plug your lights into a direct outlet.

Reed said using office-type extension cords is not advisable for Christmas lights and can cause fires. If you must use an extension cord, make sure it’s an exterior-rated extension cord.

You should also note that stringing more than three strands of incandescent lights together is dangerous because they have the potential to overheat. Instead, use one strand of lights that’s the length you need.

And it’s not just the outside decorations you need to think about; pay attention to the type of Christmas tree you have and treat it accordingly.

“People need to water their tree if they have a live tree,” Reed said. “If they don’t water their tree daily, they become dry. The heat from the lights start, and you have a fire in your living room that will spread quickly. A lot of people don’t realize that a 6-foot Christmas tree requires 1 gallon of water every day.”

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