D.I.Y.: 10 tips to safely hang holiday lights

Photo credit: Brant Sanderlin, AJC

Photo credit: Brant Sanderlin, AJC

My neighbor hasn’t taken down her Christmas lights from last year. That’s one way to save time, I suppose. However, if you’re like most with lights, you hang them each year and turn on the lights just after Thanksgiving. Hanging lights is a simple D.I.Y. project, but you should take precautions, said Randall Burks, manager of Lowe’s home improvement store in Alpharetta.

“Most of the time, when there is a safety issue, it’s because someone has tried to use a shortcut,” he said.

Shortcuts save money — on the front end. Too often, though, they end up costing those who’ve used them much more. Heed these steps:

1. Do not use staples, tacks, nails or anything else metal to hang lights.

“If you do, you’ve created a hazard,” Burks said. He suggests using plastic hooks or clips that do not damage the wires. Even the slightest piercing of the cord can be hazardous.

2. If you use lights outside, make sure they are designed for that use. The packaging will tell you whether the lights are made for indoor or outdoor use.

3. Make sure the lights are connected to a grounded outlet. The preference, Burks said, is for a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI). “If anything happens, it will trip it and turn it off,” he said.

4. Avoid mounting lights around sources of heat: fireplaces, electric heaters, gas heaters or candles.

5. Replace damaged lights. Only two missing bulbs can reduce the brightness of lights by as much as 39 percent; four missing bulbs raises that to 63 percent. Blown bulbs makes the string of lights dimmer and drains energy. Replace them, and consider using LED lights. While they are more costly initially, “they save a tremendous amount of energy and will last significantly longer,” Burks said.

6. Be cautious about running extension cords throughout the yard. First of all, the cords should be suitable for outdoor usage. Additionally, they should be kept away from water and should not be pinched in doors or windows.

7. Use precautions when you’re hanging high lights. If you’re using a ladder to reach high places, be sure to have someone holding the ladder for you. If the area is especially high, consider purchasing a pole called St. Nick’s Choice that has a latch on the end of it and lets you hook lights.

8. If the whole process is too much, you can always purchase a tree with lights with already on it.

9. Remember to turn lights off when you go to bed and burn them only in the evening.

10. Happy Holidays.

Here’s a look at some spectacular holiday lights in the region. And go to the Best of the Big A to vote on the best local holiday lights.

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