How to make sure your holiday lights are safe this holiday season

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- For many, a big part of getting into the holiday spirit means stringing up lights - either inside or outside your home. But some lights can be hazardous. Consumer Reports tells you how to stay safe, and has some advice this holiday season.

If you are still using the same holiday lights from years ago, they're probably incandescent. And that means it's a good idea to check them for safety. "You should check the wires and see if there is anything frayed. Make sure the plug is in good condition," John Banta, Consumer Reports Home Expert.

And make sure the wire is pliable ... not brittle. If some bulbs are out, Consumer Reports says it's safe to replace them. But what if the lights just do not work? "You can't repair them. They can cause a fire. Throw them away," said Banta.

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That's just one reason Jeff Staples only uses LED lights for his holiday display. "They are much less problematic. The bulbs are solid so they don't break," he said.

Staples has been installing elaborate displays - music included - for the past five years. He programs the display through his computer. "I really enjoy it. I am outlining the perimeter of the house and putting up six... three-foot snowflakes," he said.

Even though he spent about six-thousand dollars on the lights alone, Staples says you cannot beat their efficiency. "I can run the whole display for less than the cost of running a refrigerator," he said.

And Consumer Reports says they can last for a long time - something Staples is counting on. "The excitement of being able to interact with the kids. Maybe they can program their own display," he said.

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One more note on safety. If you continue to use incandescent lights, Consumer Reports says never link several strings together as this can cause a power overload.

Take a look at all of 7 On Your Side's stories with Consumer Reports here.

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