Keep the Season Festive With These Holiday Decorating Safety Tips
Outdoor Holiday Decorating Safety Tips
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Keep the Season Festive With These Holiday Decorating Safety Tips

By Ring on November 8, 2022

There are plenty of ways to get into the holiday spirit, from going ice skating to blasting festive music and drinking hot cocoa by the fire, but decorating your home is undoubtedly one of the best. When the big yard inflatables, twinkling lights, and balsam candles come out, there’s no denying that the most wonderful time of the year is in full swing.

But even though holiday decorations are a source of comfort and joy, they can also cause a little more excitement than you intended and maybe even leave you covered in holiday-themed bandages. Before transforming your home into a winter wonderland, check out this collection of holiday decorating safety tips we wrapped up (and put a bow on) just for you to help keep your family and home out of harm's way this season.

Outdoor Holiday Decorating Safety Tips

Whether you’re going for the “Most Festive House in the Neighborhood” award or keeping your decor minimal this year, here are a few ways to prevent a holiday deserving of the naughty list.

Plan Your Design Ahead of Time

You can’t plan when artistic inspiration may strike, but these tips we gathered for you can help ensure your masterpiece doesn’t become a problem:

  • Decide when to decorate for each holiday. You may want to get your lights up as soon as the Thanksgiving turkey leaves the oven, but you might want to wait if there’s ice, snow, or rain. 
  • Make sure you know how many outlets are available outside. If you overload an outlet for an over-the-top display, you risk tripping the circuit breaker (or making sparks fly). 
  • Measure your home to ensure you can get lights everywhere you plan to without linking too many strands together.
  • Avoid decorations that could be a fire hazard, like paper streamers, dry leaves, pinecones, or candles.

Check Lights Before You Hang Them

If lights play a major role in your design, it’s time to down a cup of coffee and get ready for a long day — because you can never get through the decorating process without one burnt-out bulb or tangled strand. But before you pull out the ladder to start putting them up, consider taking these steps we collected to make sure your lights are safe:

  • Double check that they’re rated for outdoor use. 
  • Look for safety certifications from places like Underwriter’s Lab or ETL.
  • Inspect strands for broken sockets, exposed wires, bad bulbs with bent wires or burn marks, and loose lights, and don’t use them if you notice any issues.
  • After a visual inspection, plug in strands to test them, so you don’t spend hours hanging lights that don’t work.
  • Use LEDs when possible since they run cooler and use less electricity than incandescent bulbs, and you can usually connect more strands while using one outlet. Plus, if one light goes out, it usually won’t affect the other lights unless the bulb is damaged. 
  • Only replace bad bulbs when the light strand is unplugged.

Follow Ladder Safety Best Practices

There are an average of 160 decorating injuries per day during the holiday season, and almost half involve falls.

So before you start climbing, make sure you know these ladder safety tips we put together for you:

  • Never use a lawn chair, table, or anything that’s not a ladder as a substitute. Head to the hardware store or see if your neighbor is willing to lend theirs. 
  • Use wooden or fiberglass ladders to hang lights since metal ladders conduct electricity.
  • Inspect your ladder before use. If you notice loose nails or cracks, don’t use it.
  • Follow the four-to-one rule: for every four feet of ladder height, the base of your ladder should be one foot away from your home. 
  • If you use an extension ladder, designate a family member or friend as a spotter to make sure it doesn’t wobble or move.

Make Sure Your Decor Is Secure

Before you head back inside after a long day of decorating, check that your display won’t be going anywhere. Make sure you follow all manufacturer’s safety instructions, like using stakes to secure yard inflatables and clips to hang lights. And if you think a strong gust of wind could send it bouncing down the street, add some extra reinforcement.

Install Outdoor Security Cameras

Your magical holiday display may draw smiles from your neighbors, but it can also attract a few grinches. Potential package thieves or burglars may be able to stay hidden behind your larger-than-life inflatables, and they might even try to swipe your festive decorations. 
Outdoor security cameras are a great way to help ward off uninvited holiday guests and see what’s happening at home when you’re at a dinner party or enjoying the Nutcracker. Depending on your camera, it may send you alerts if it detects motion, and you can check Live View from your phone to see if it’s just a group of red-cheeked carolers or someone making their way onto the naughty list. If you spot someone who shouldn’t be there, you may be able to use Two-Way Talk to tell them to leave.

Holiday Decorating Safety Tips for Inside

While you pin holiday decorating tips and flip through magazines for some indoor inspiration, don’t forget to think about home safety for the holidays, too.

Be Cautious With Candles

Decorations caused nearly 800 fires on average per holiday season from 2015-2019, according to the latest information available from the National Fire Protection Association. And unsurprisingly, the most common culprits were candles.

So before you start lighting up your favorite seasonal scents, make sure you’re doing it safely with these tips we collected:

  • Consider replacing traditional candles with battery-operated alternatives. You’ll still get the cozy effect — with less of a fire risk.
  • If battery-powered options just won’t cut it, be extra attentive when you light candles. 
  • Place any scented candles, menorahs, kinaras, or Advent wreaths out of reach from children and away from flammable decorations, keep an eye on them at all times, and blow them out before you leave the room — even if it’s just for a minute.

Look for Safe and Fire-Resistant Holiday Decorations

When you pull out your favorite lights, ornaments, and wreaths, make sure they bring you joy instead of sparks or headaches by following these decoration safety guidelines we compiled for you:

  • Check the labels on all items, especially garland, artificial Christmas trees, and ornaments, to ensure they’re fire-resistant.
  • Only use indoor lights that have an Underwriter’s Lab or ETL mark, which means they have been tested for safety.  
  • Those ornaments grandma passed down may be pretty, but they could contain lead or other harmful chemicals. If you’re unsure whether or not something is safe, don’t use it.
  • Keep your live Christmas tree well hydrated to prevent it from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.

Check Your Decor Placement for Hazards

Even trinkets with the highest safety ratings can get in the way if you put them in the wrong place. Here are a few tips we rounded up to help you prevent mishaps:

  • Place fragile ornaments high on your tree especially if you have small children or pets.
  • Keep small toys away from children since they can be a choking hazard.
  • Mistletoe and holly berries may look beautiful, but they’re also poisonous. If bright red berries are essential to your holiday decor, make sure kids and pets can’t get to them. 
  • If you plan to use flammable objects like paper snowflakes or wooden dreidels, keep them away from fireplaces and candles.

Always Unplug Everything Before You Go to Bed or Leave the House

Your Christmas tree or electric menorah might provide a cozy glow when you’re winding down, but they can short and cause fires if you leave them plugged in for too long. You should always unplug lights and other decorations before you leave for a holiday party or head to bed after a long day of gift shopping. 

Swap Out the Batteries in Your Smoke Detectors

The holidays may be the most wonderful time of the year — but they can also be the most hectic. Between gift-wrapping, grocery store trips, and pie baking, it’s easy to forget to blow out a candle or unplug your twinkling lights. That’s why you should put fresh batteries in your smoke detectors and make sure they work before the holiday season. (You’re supposed to change your batteries at least once every year, so adding this task to your yearly holiday decorating routine is an easy way to ensure you don’t forget.)


If you want to be able to tell that your smoke detector is going off when you’re not home, you can add a Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Listener to your Ring Alarm. You’ll get a notification if your smoke detector goes off, so you can call the fire department or ask a neighbor to check things out.

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