Sparkle safely this Christmas

16 December 2011

Electrical safety at Christmas

With almost half of all accidental fires in the home caused by electricity, the Electrical Safety Council (ESC) is asking people to take no chances with their seasonal lighting.

“At the risk of sounding somewhat Scrooge-like, we need to make the public aware of the dangers posed by old or damaged Christmas lights”, explains Phil Buckle, Director General of the ESC.  “This time of year is always expensive and we all try and save some money where we can but please don’t sell the safety of your family and home cheaply.  Lights that are damaged, old, misused – or plugged into overloaded adaptors or extension leads - can cause electric shock or fire. If you are unsure about the safety of your lights, buy new ones.  They won’t break the bank but they could make a big difference to your Christmas.”

When buying replacement Christmas lights, the ESC recommends getting LEDs, as they use significantly less electricity than traditional filament lights. LED lights are less likely to overheat and cause fire and, as they operate at extra low voltage, there is much less chance of getting an electric shock.

“Christmas lights are pulled out year after year, often with little regard given to their safety”, adds Phil Buckle. “The advice we’re issuing this Christmas is to use electricity wisely – check your Christmas lights are safe, turn them off when you are not around to enjoy them and be alert to potential electrical dangers around the home. For more information, go to our website at”.

Here are the ESC’s top 10 tips for a sparkling and safe Christmas:
•    Even Christmas lights need a break – switch off all lights when you aren’t there to enjoy them.
•    Before using, check if lights are damp, damaged or have loose wires – if so, don’t take the risk. Replace them.
•    Don’t remove or insert lamps when the chain is connected to the electricity supply.
•    Use LED Christmas lights instead of traditional lights -  they’re more energy efficient and reduce the risk of electric shock - or get Christmas lights with an extra-low voltage transformer, which operate at a safer voltage (usually 12 – 24 volts).
•    Never use lights outdoors unless they are designed for external use.
•    Make sure all your outdoor lighting is specifically designed for outdoor use and connected through an RCD protected socket. (An RCD is a potentially life-saving device designed to prevent you from getting a fatal electric shock. It can also protect against some electric fires).
•    Don’t overload sockets and try to avoid the use of extension leads or adaptors – it’s easy to trip if you’re a bit too merry!
•    Don’t allow children to play with Christmas lights
•    Keep lights away from flammable decorations and other materials that can burn easily.
•    Make sure you know where your fuse box is so you can reach it quickly in an emergency

For more information please contact Ben Stokes on 020 3463 5129 or at