Once a year, festive fanatics illuminate their home with Christmas lights, decorations, nativity scenes and a token roof – climbing Santa in a bid to ‘keep up with the joneses’ and have their home hailed as the light source of Christmas craziness.
Tony Cable, NICEIC’s electrical expert says: “We all like a spot of Christmas spirit but every year the odd few get too carried away with festive lighting, putting the household’s safety in jeopardy. Too many lights and decorations are not a good idea so try to limit the amount of plugs per socket and when you turn the lights off, make sure you also switch them off at the plug.
“Money could be tight this Christmas so many people will be re-using lighting decorations that may have been stored away for a year and should be thoroughly checked before use – if you are in any doubt about the quality of the lights, throw them away and buy new ones.
“The safest Christmas lights to buy are extra low voltage lights with LEDs instead of traditional filament light bulbs. LEDs reduce the risk of electric shock, use less power and generate less heat so they are less expensive and safer to use and because they are made of a special plastic, there are no glass bulbs to break. These lights also save energy, so are more environmentally friendly.
“Most importantly, if you are worried about faulty electrics or encounter an electrical problem, do not tackle it yourself, call out a professional.”
From lighting decorations to outside illuminations, NICEIC has some advice to make sure your electrical decorations are stored correctly, sockets are not overloaded and most of all that you enjoy a safe and fiasco-free Christmas. Remember, it is estimated that around 12,500 house fires, 750 serious injuries and 10 deaths caused by unsafe electrics in the home each year. To keep safe, follow these top tips:
Three key things to look out for when re-using indoor lighting:
- Ensure the lights are not damaged or broken before use and that the bulbs are secure.
- Look out for loose wires and keep lights away from flammable materials.
- Use only replacement bulbs of the same type and rating as those originally supplied with the lights.
- Limit each socket to one plug as overloading sockets can cause them to overheat.
- If the lights have been used over again for many years, make sure they still conform to current safety standards.
For outdoor lighting, the same safety checks should be made, and in addition follow these simple steps:
- Make sure that any lights used for outside the home are designed specifically for use in all kinds of weather.
- Invest in an RCD, this device automatically cuts off the electricity supply when a fault is detected and is potentially life-saving.
- Ensure that plugs and transformers are plugged-in indoors.
NICEIC is the UK’s leading voluntary regulatory body for the electrical contracting industry.
The NICEIC backed website www.findanelectrician.info helps households locate a registered electrician in their area. It also holds a host of consumer friendly information about electrical work.
Alternatively, for more information on your obligations under Part P of the Building Regulations and top tips from DIY expert Linda Barker visit: www.donttakethep.co.uk.