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Outdoor Decorating and Lighting Safety


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Summary: Guidelines for outdoor lighting safety.

Outdoor Lighting Safety Tips


Guidelines for outdoor lighting safety.

Planning your outdoor lighting will help reduce accidents and ensure that your outdoor lighting project is safe.



  • Never use Indoor Lights outside your home.

  • Never use an Aluminum Ladder when working with electrical devices of any kind. Use a Fiberglass Ladder with the proper weight rating for you. [ladder safety link

  • Fasten bulbs securely and point the sockets down to avoid moisture build up.

  • Follow the directions that came with lighting decorations.

  • Never use Indoor Extension Cords outside.

  • Use UL-Listed, 3-Wire Grounded Cords that are plugged into GFCI Protected Receptacles only. Keep outdoor electrical connectors and cords above ground and out of water and snow. [link to GFCI info Page]

  • Fasten the lights securely. Use insulated staples or support devices to hold the strands in place. Do not use nails, hooks or tacks which will damage the wire insulation.

  • Unplug light strands before replacing any bulbs. Review the original package to verify proper wattage and voltage.

  • When connecting light strands, make sure the receptacle and plug connection are under an area protected from moisture. Consult the directions.

  • Never use electric lights or decorative ornaments on a metallic tree. Consider using colored spotlights instead. [link to outdoor decorative lighting]


Lighting Safety Preparation

More safety tips for all types of holiday lighting:

  • Before you string outdoor lights, check for overhead power lines. Don't place yourself or any object in a position where you or it may come in contact with a power line—the result can be fatal. Look up before raising ladders or other objects. Keep at least 10 feet away from overhead lines.

  • Make sure lights used to decorate the outside of the house are approved for outdoor use. Never use indoor lights outdoors.

  • If stringing lights on outdoor trees, make sure tree limbs haven't grown into or near power lines. Branches or entire trees can become energized if they contact a power line.

  • Check all light strands for cracked or broken plugs, frayed insulation, or bare wires. Worn cords can cause fires. Discard damaged sets of lights.

  • Route cords inside your home so they won't trip anyone. Don't place them under rugs, furniture, or other appliances. If covered, cords can overheat or become frayed and can cause a fire.

  • Follow the manufacturer's limits for number of strings that can safely be connected together.

  • Always turn off tree and decorative lights—indoors and outdoors—when leaving the house and before going to bed.



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