Each holiday season, lighting equipment related to electrical distribution was responsible for a whopping 43% of Christmas tree fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association

Taking the right precautions to prevent fire hazards related to lighting displays on trees and on homes during the holiday season is essential to thwarting disaster.

Here are some Christmas lights safety tips for homeowners this holiday season:

Lights should never be left on while unattended.  This rule applies to lights both inside and outside of your home. Invest in timers or even remote controls to make this simple rule easier to follow.

Only use indoor lights and extension cords indoors and NEVER outdoors.  Using indoor lights and cords outside exposes the components to moisture which creates a fire hazard. If you are in doubt use indoors only.

LED lights are safer than incandescent lights.  Not only do LED lights save money on your power bill but they can last upwards of 25 times longer than incandescent lighting. This is because they use 75 percent less electricity which means they off a minimal amount of heat.

NEVER use nails, staples or any type of metal to hang Christmas lights.  You could risk damaging the wiring which is a sure fire way to risk a fire. Instead, use plastic hooks and avoid damaging any wiring. In fact, if you notice any damage to bulb sockets or frayed wiring toss that string of lights and just replace it.

If you want to bring home a live Christmas tree make sure it’s freshly cut or re-cut it, place it in a stand and fill the stand with water IMMEDIATELY.  The first three days your tree should be sucking down the water to the halfway point. Keep your tree far away from fireplaces and candles.

ONLY use three strands of lights per outlet.  This is a big mistake that most homeowners make. One extra level of protection is to use a surge protector or a power strip that has a circuit breaker.

Lastly, be aware of where you place candles in your home regardless if they are near a Christmas tree. Keep them away from kids and pets where they can be knocked over easily. In fact, if you are going for pure decoration consider battery-operated candles instead.