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Outdoor Christmas lights – The do’s and don’t’s

9th June, 2016

It’s one of the many joys of December….Christmas lights! And with December less than two weeks ago we thought this would be a fitting topic. We all love looking at them, and some of us love hanging them and some people even wait and prepare all year to be able to set up their amazing light designs for everyone to see.  Walking the streets of the local “Christmas light hot spot” is one of most Australians favourite past times. In no way is this post mean to be a party pooper, but just a warning that Christmas lights don’t always bring just happiness and joy. Like many things, Christmas lights can be an amazing way to show your creativity and bring to others and yourself happiness…if done safely.

What are the risks?


This might be the most obvious risk and it also is the one that is potentially the most devastating. It isn’t all that uncommon that people lose all their belongings and home in house fires or even worse, lose their life. Most of these fires are accidental and preventable. There are two very important tips that we are sure you all know (and hopefully do!) but we just want to reiterate how important they are.

  1. Have working smoke detectors. And make sure they work! Check them regularly. How often have you heard of someone having smoke detectors that are low battery or not working? In a perfect world, the answer would be never.
  2. Buy at least one fire extinguisher to keep in your home, you probably want more if you have a larger home. Also, make sure to purchase fire extinguishers that follow the strict Australian Standards.
  3. Make sure everyone in the home (this is mainly for those of you with kids) knows to call 000 in the time of an emergency and what to say. Do they know your address?

These three simple steps may just save yours or your families lives, and a lot of emotional heartache and financial heartache. Also a little reminder (again obvious but so important), lights get hot after being turned on for long periods of when you are attaching lights to your roof it makes sense to make sure your gutters are clear of any debris that could be flammable if they were to come in contact with hot lights.

Electrical hazards

We are sure you know that many electrical hazards come about when covering the outside of your house in electrical lights. This is almost as obvious as the fire one…but do you know what these risks actually are and how to prevent them? In case you don’t, we are going to explain.

  • Overloading a power point: The normal capacity for a power point is up to 2,300 watts. You need to be mindful and do your research on this for all the time, but especially when you are using large amounts of power for long periods for things like Christmas lights
  • Damaged lights: Every time you get your Christmas lights out to use, you should thoroughly check them for frayed or loose wiring and burnt out bulbs. Make sure you replace any burnt out bulbs because not only do they use up wasted electricity if you continue to use the lights, they can be dangerous.
  • Set up of lights: Never put light near flammable items such as tinsel or dry leaves (again, clear your gutters!). Also use a safe method of securing your lights, staples or nails are not one of them! There are special hooks you can buy purposely made for this use and won’t damage the chords or your house. Lastly, manage your cords well. Set them up as neatly as possible and don’t have them in places where they could get driven over, stepped on or tripped over.
  • Injury while installing lights: Make sure you know how to use your ladder safely! As roofers we of all people know how important this is. Check the image below for the “do nots” of ladder use. Click for more information

Damage to your roof

It’s inevitable that we are going to talk about this. We have already mentioned twice in this post (broken record much?!) how important it is that you keep your gutters clear. So we just want to mention here the rest of your roof maintenance. If you have read our other blogs, you may have come across our Roof Maintance blog. This is where we talked about keeping your roof in good shape as a preventative measure. Well this post is a good example of this maintenance showing its benefits. Imagine there is a roof that was already not in the best condition, then you go attach a bunch of hanging lights to it. Then a storm comes (which is not unlikely in South East Queensland during December!). The roof that already would have struggled to stay in one piece during that storm now has even more weight on it. We will let you use your imagination for that one!

Buying unapproved or lights not suitable for outdoors

This can cause an array of problems, including some of the ones we have mentioned in this post. So just don’t do it…it is certainly not worth the small discount you may be getting! Go for a reputable Australian brand that complies with our standards.

So maybe you knew everything we put in this post. But if it reminded you and got you thinking about how important it is rather than putting these tips in the “it will be right” basket, we have done our job! Happy decorating for those of you who will be in the next couple of week.

Top tip: set up a timer on your lights to save energy – 6pm – 11pm

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