As Christmas draws closer, many Lubbock homeowners are climbing onto their roofs and hanging up Christmas lights. However, if you don't know what you're doing, this simple holiday tradition can be dangerous.
A North Lubbock family learned that lesson the hard way Wednesday night, when their Christmas lights caught their house on fire.
It took fire crews almost an hour to get the flames out in the 5800 block of Dartmouth. The home was saved but did suffer some damage. The Lubbock Fire Marshal's office says the homeowner connected too many strands of lights to an extension cord. The extension cord overheated and started the fire. Experts say this is a common mistake.
Dylan Burns puts up Christmas lights for a living. His company, Star Landscape, has already hung Christmas lights for at least 250 Lubbock homes this season.
"Putting up Christmas lights is a fun thing. It's definitely enjoyable for the holidays, but you definitely want to know what you're doing," Burns said. "Some houses, the customer wants the whole place to be lit up, but you can't because you don't have enough plugs."
Burns says some customers want to go all out with their lights, but their homes aren't always equipped to handle the electricity.
"Some houses have more electricity pulling off of one plug, from say, the entertainment center in the living room, so it just varies," Burns said.
Burns has some simple advice. Always check the box your lights come in and read the instructions. They usually tell you how many strands you can connect to one another. Burns says you need to find out exactly how much each plug of your home can handle. If you're not sure, you can call an electrician to come out and do an evaluation.
"Evaluate the property, how many plugs they do have, to find out how many lights you can put on the house," Burns said.
Electricity isn't the only concern when hanging lights. Burns advises against using staple guns because over time, they can cause roof damage. He says it's important to be careful with ladders and make sure you know the layout of your roof, so you don't take an unnecessary fall.
Burns recommends that you educate yourself first and hang lights second.
"Find out what's going on. Know what you're doing. You don't want to burn your house down over holidays - definitely wrong time to do that," Burns said.
For more information on custom light installation and other services, visit Star Landscape at www.starlubbock.com
Copyright 2011 KCBD NewsChannel 11