A.D. Thompson
cat in christmas lights

We're heading down the straightaway into holiday season, so you're likely thinking about the music playing over the crackle of the digital (or actual!) Yule log, the trays and trays of cookies you're hoping to bake and the lights – oh, the lights! You'll line the foyer, the tree, the balcony – heck, you may put another tree out ON your balcony.

Slow your holiday roll, renter. There are a few things you need to think about before you start decking those halls.

Safety first

We all know that the holiday season, for all its charm and tradition, is an electrical fire waiting to happen if you aren't careful.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, one of every four home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems – and although Christmas tree fires are uncommon, they are likely to be serious. On average, one of every 32 Christmas tree fires results in a death versus one in every 143 regular home fires.

The top three days for home candle fires are Christmas, New Year's Day and Christmas Eve and nearly half of all holiday decoration fires happen because they're placed too close to a heat source.

Here are five important tips you need to remember to make sure your holiday doesn't go up in flames.

1. Inspect your lights

tangled christmas lights

Examine all your cords before plugging anything in. Torn, kinked or frayed light strands should be discarded immediately.

2. Don't overload circuits

overloaded circuit

Spread your twinkly electric joy around the apartment to prevent it.

3. No people? No lights!

christmas lights in the dark

It's tempting to leave them on all the time, but lights and decoration should be turned off before leaving your home. Installing a timer to do this for you can ensure everyone enjoys the displays safely – and it will keep your electric bill down, too!

4. Keep your tree hydrated

watering christmas tree

If you use a real Christmas tree, even a couple of days without water can turn your Tannenbaum into a fire trap that catches fire like dry brush in the desert. Don't forget!

5. Candle power

christmas candles

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

It should be self-evident, but always place candles on sturdy and level surfaces and never leave them burning when you go out (or even leave the room). Conversely, consider replacing traditional candles with electric ones. The LEDs can get hot, though, so always turn them off before you leave or go to bed.


Don't forget about your neighbors

Sure, you think those flashing lights on your balcony are charming and festive – a visual mug of eggnog for the neighbors to enjoy. Except they have epilepsy. Or migraine sensitivity. Or maybe they're just Grinches. Either way, you need to be considerate, lest they come banging on your door. Or worse, the landlords.

It's common courtesy to let your neighbors know your intention if any of the decorations you plan to hang could affect things in their apartment. To do so while bearing gifts of fresh-baked bread, a bottle of wine or a chocolate advent calendar is not the worst idea in the world, either.

You don't necessarily need to ask your neighbors for permission, but it also wouldn't hurt to check your lease before you get started. Clauses prohibiting holiday decorations are rare, but not completely unheard of, so it's better to be safe than sorry.



About The Author

A.D. Thompson

A.D. Thompson spent the first half of her 25-year career behind the editor’s desk, including time at Playgirl Magazine. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Orlando Sentinel and a host of other publications, print and online. Now a full-time freelancer, she is the Orlando expert for USA Today’s 10Best.com and writes about everything from Mickey Mouse to marijuana-based tourism with equal levels of enthusiasm – and occasional bouts of the munchies.