Christmas light safety

Be safe and bright this season

Christmas is approaching and for some weeks now our high streets and shopping centres have been sparkling with decorations and illuminations, inspiring many of us to dig out the tinsel and baubles at home. While we don’t want to put a dampener on your winter joy, it’s important to be aware of potential fire risks, so we’ve put together some handy tips.

Using old lights

Do you use the same lights year after year? Before you plug them in, check that they’re still up to the job. Look out for wire damage and loose or missing bulbs. Then plug them into the mains to double check everything is working as it should be before you hang them up on the tree.

Buying new lights

If you’re going to buy new lights this year, be sure to buy them from a reputable retailer. Also consider choosing LEDs over filament bulbs. LEDs produce less heat, reducing the risk of fires. And as they use less energy, they could also save you money.

Simple precautions

Whether your lights are new or old, never leave them on if you’re going out or when you go to bed. When you take them down at the end of the season, don’t pull too hard as you may damage wiring or loosen any seals around the plug or bulbs. Be sure to store them properly until the next time you need them and to keep them away from dust or damp.

Outdoor lights

While some parts of Britain get a dusting of snow during the winter, other parts get rain. Wherever you are, you’ll need to take precautions if you’re planning on placing lights outside.

Most outdoor lights are graded by how waterproof they are, from rain-proof at the lowest end of the scale, right up to watertight. If you’re going to buy some lights to go outside this year, be sure to look for the appropriate safety symbols. You can view them below.

Grades of waterproof protection for outdoor lights

Steady as you go

If you’re mounting your lights around windows from the inside, or wrapping them around a tree and can’t quite reach, use a sturdy step ladder rather than a stool or chair to give you some some extra stability. And if you’re using a ladder to put lights on the roof, get another adult to hold the bottom of the ladder while you’re up there.

Candles

Candles can add a beautiful warm light to your home in the winter and can help add to the festive ambience, especially if they’re scented. Of course, candles have also been used in traditional Christmas celebrations for a long time now, for example in Advent wreaths

Advent wreaths are traditionally used to reflect on the approach of Christmas. During the four weeks leading up to Christmas, one candle is lit on each Sunday. The last candle is lit on the day itself.

Whether you're using candles for traditional celebrations or for decorative purposes, the guidance remains the same:

  • Don’t place them under shelves
  • Extinguish candles before you leave a room and never leave them unattended
  • If you’re moving a candle from one area to another, extinguish it before doing so
  • Always place candles on sturdy and fire-proof surfaces
  • Blowing candles out can spread hot wax or embers; using a candle snuffer or spoon does the job with less mess
  • After you’ve extinguished a candle, always double check that it’s not still smouldering - smouldering wicks can start fire

Get more guidance from the safety experts

If you want to learn more, there are plenty of resources online and we’ve already picked out a few that you may find useful. The government has produced this leaflet about safety in the home during the holidays. For useful hints and tips that apply all year round, check out Electrical Safety First and the London Fire Brigade for advice and downloadable leaflets.


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Important information regarding our advice and tips

We try to make sure that the information we include in our blog is correct. Unfortunately information can become out dated, and we can’t guarantee that we won’t ever make a mistake. With that in mind, we accept no responsibility (including loss, damage or injury) for your use of the advice on our blog, or the wider website. Please always consult a professional if you intend to carry out DIY and you’re not fully confident in doing it yourself.

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