Research shows that millions of Brits could be taking chances with electrical safety in their homes this Christmas

14 December 2015

Make your Home Sparkle, Without the Fire Sparks

In homes across the UK fairy lights are twinkling and gifts are being wrapped, however millions of us will be taking dangerous chances with our safety this festive season, according to research from Electrical Safety First. To ensure that these risks are reduced, the Charity is highlighting common activities that we may not know are putting our households in danger.

Research recently undertaken by Electrical Safety First, revealed that one in 12 peoplei (8%) confess to leaving their Christmas lights on overnight. Unwittingly, people could be endangering their households as Christmas lights can overheat and create a fire hazard. While many of us will be skyping family abroad and charging new toys and mobile devices, it’s important to remember that overcharging can cause some adaptors to become a fire risk. Despite the risk, over half (56%)ii of Brits admit to leaving their phone charger plugged in overnight. One in four (25%)iii are guilty of overloading sockets, using extension leads and adaptors, which can also cause overheating and fire. Electrical Safety First is asking people not to take these chances with potential dangers around the home.

The gift at the top of many wish lists is also a potential threat lurking under many Christmas trees this year. Electrical Safety First’s research reveals that an estimated 1.5 million people in the UK have bought, or are considering buying, a hoverboard (otherwise known as a Swegway) as a gift this Christmas.

Steve Curtler, Product Safety Manager at Electrical Safety First commented:

“At the risk of sounding like the Christmas Grinch, we’d like people to be aware of the potential dangers when purchasing a hoverboard as a gift. Some of the chargers that are sold with hoverboards have no fuse and no protection, so there’s a real danger of fire. There are no age restrictions on the use of the products, so parents may be unaware that they’re unsuitable for use by young children.

“If you are certain that you are buying a hoverboard, we would recommend that people shop only with reputable retailers you know and trust, either on the high street or online, but not on online marketplaces. That way there if something goes wrong you can contact the seller and you are likely to be compensated.”

Looking more closely at Christmas trends across Great Britain, one in fivev (21%) households reported that they will be displaying outdoor Christmas lights this year. Homes and gardens in the East Midlands will shine the brightest this year with over a quarter of households vi (27%) revealing that they’re displaying outdoor lights, while only 15%vii of Scots plan on lighting up their homes and gardens. The advice from Electrical Safety First is to display outdoor lights safely, whether it’s a sprinkling of lights around the door or a fully lit up Santa’s Grotto in your garden.

Finally, what causes the most grief for Brits on Christmas Day? Almost one in four(24%)viii of us admit that our relatives or in-laws irritate us the most. Perhaps it’s unsurprising then that the nation’s most popular afternoon activity is watching TV, with 43%ix of us revealing that we spend Christmas day on the sofa.

Phil Buckle, Director General of Electrical Safety First added:

“While our research shows that having relatives and in-laws over are the most annoying part of the festive season for many people, we also know that keeping the family safe takes priority.

“Our research shows that people are not necessarily taking the precautions that they should to make sure their homes are safe. The advice we’re issuing is to use electricity wisely – check your Christmas lights are safe, replace the bulbs or the set if there is any damage and bealert to potential electrical dangers around the home. And, make sure you switch your lights off and unplug them before you go out or go to bed – even Christmas lights need a break.”

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Notes to editors

  • Electrical Safety First is the UK charity dedicated to reducing deaths and injuries caused by electrical accidents. We campaign to improve safety regulation and messages, and provide expert information and advice to the public and professionals to help ensure everyone in the UK can use electricity safely. Visit for more information
  • All consumer research, unless otherwise stated, was conducted from 2-4 December 2015 by Populus on behalf of Electrical Safety First with a sample of 2066 adults. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults

Electrical Safety First has created top tips for enjoying a safe and happy festive period:

  • 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


(i) Populus, December 2015, base 2066 adults

(ii) Populus, December 2015, base 2066 adults

(iii) Populus, December 2015, base 2066 adults

(iv) Populus, December 2015, base 2066 adults

(v) Populus, December 2015, base 2066 adults

(vi) Populus, December 2015, base 2066 adults

(vii) Populus, December 2015, base 2066 adults

(viii) Populus, December 2015, base 2066 adults

(ix) Populus, December 2015, base 2066 adults