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Keep Your Christmas Light On, and Our Emergency Lights Off

December 12, 2012

Christmas Lights 2012

Christmas lights are another integral part of your home’s Christmas display.  The advent of Thomas Edison’s incandescent lamp drastically reduced the threat of fire from candles near Christmas trees, but fire departments still manage to conduct some business around the holidays due to Christmas lights.  The following tips will help reduce the chances that you’ll experience a fire at your home this Christmas.



  1. Ensure your lights have the UL seal.  Underwriter’s Laboratories ensures electrical products meet safety standards.
  2. Only use light strings for their intended use.  Don’t use indoor lights outdoors.  Manufacturers design light strings for specific applications and using them for conditions other than they were designed is asking for trouble.
  3. Only leave lights on when you’re home and awake.  That way if something does short out, you’ll notice it early and can take action.  If you’re away from home, no one will see the problem until smoke is billowing out of your house.  If you’re asleep, you may not become aware of a fire until too late to escape.
  4. Replace bulbs as soon as they go out.  Immediately replace lighting strings that are damaged or not working correctly.  The cost of a new string of lights is nothing compared to the cost of a fire.
  5. Pay attention to how many light strings you plug in end-to-end.  Most Christmas light strings have an integral 3 amp fuse in the plug.  Bulb size, number of lights, and wiring all impact how many strings can be used end-to-end.  So once again stick to what the manufacturer prints on the tag regarding how many strings you connect in end-to-end.  If you exceed that, you’ll overheat and start burning out fuses.
  6. Most 15 amp household circuits can have five sets of end-to-end strings of Christmas lights plugged in maximum (and that’s with no other electrical appliances on that circuit).  Exceed that, and you’ll start tripping breakers at your household service panel.  It’s never a good idea to plan on overloading your household wiring circuits.
  7. Ensure that any extension cords are rated for the amperage you’ll be demanding from them.  Keep outdoor extension cords where they won’t get wet.
  8. Do not coil your cords up in a nice neat coil.  I know, it looks much neater.  However, alternating current can create heat when the cord is energized and coiled up on itself.  Enough current with enough coils in the right location can ignite a fire.  I’ve investigated two such fires in my career.


Our ultimate goal is to not visit your house professionally this Christmas season.  If you’ve got questions about fire safety, you can call us at 466-4602, or e-mail me at, or you can post your question here on this blog.


From → Fire Prevention

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