Last year someone I ran into online made a post about wanting to string something like 800 lights on her Christmas tree. She wasn't unique in her wish to create a tree that would be dazzlingly filled with a whole lot of lights.

This individual asked about the safety of using one outlet for all the light strings she had in mind. Because today's Christmas lights don't get too hot she was under the impression that an extreme number of strings of them would not pose any fire hazard. In fact, her only concern was whether it would be safe to plug them all into one outlet.

Always check the boxes in which the lights were packaged at the same of purchase, because manufacturers show how many strings of that type of lights can be safely connected together. Don't take for granted that because these lights all look similar that they are identical, and keep in mind that when the box indicates how many strings of lights can be safely connected that means that x number of strings shouldn't be strung together, only to be plugged into the same outlet.

Between the relative coolness of these lights and the fact that many Christmas trees are artificial, fire hazards can seem like less of a concern than they were in the days of the "old kind" of lights, or than they are with real trees. The risk of fire may be lower, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Inspect your lights for signs of damage, and don't use damaged sets. Be careful what ornament materials are in close proximity to the lights on the tree. Needless to say, don't let real trees dry out as a result of lack of water.

Photo: ME Whelan