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Have a holly jolly electrical safe Christmas

This weekend will see the Christmas decorations going up in homes up and down the country, with people crawling around in lofts, trawling the garage for the Christmas box and scrabbling around for those all too necessary extension leads.

BUT before you get too carried away, spare a thought for safety. We love this helpful advice from NICEIC – the UK’s leading body for registered electricians – and Rose Jackson:

‘Tis the Season to Be Electrical Safe

More thought is going into Christmas decorations than ever before, from elaborate tree dressing to light-up Santa’s on display. With this in mind, NICEIC, the UK’s leading body for registered electricians, is reminding homeowners to be aware of the dangers that can arise from plugging in additional Christmas décor around the home; much of which has lain dormant for 11 months.

With the nation’s Christmas love affair getting grander each year, Darren Staniforth, technical expert at NICEIC, provides his advice of keeping electrics safe this festive season: The Christmas lights display is one of the best bits of Christmas. Many households really go to town in transforming their houses into multi-coloured festive extravaganzas each year – however it’s important not to get too carried away and to always put safety first.

“Some householders will plug in far too many lights on one socket which can lead to overloading, while others opt to re-wire their lights to include multiple sets which can pose a potential fire risk. Many will be unaware of the additional dangers that can arise, but we hope that with a bit of common sense and due care we can limit any Christmas catastrophes and that everyone can enjoy their time safely.”

Darren’s advice includes:

  • After 12 months of being stored away in the loft, Christmas lights can easily get damaged. Check your Christmas lights thoroughly to ensure they are not broken or damaged before use, and look out for loose wires
  • Use only replacement bulbs (lamps) of the same type and rating as those originally supplied
  • Switch lights off before you go to bed or go out. Do not be tempted to keep them on too long as they can overheat
  • Keep Christmas lights away from flammable decorations and materials that can burn easily
  • Avoid overloading extension leads or adapters as this can cause overheating
  • Never attempt to repair lights by using tape or joining with another set of lights
  • Check the wiring of the plug and make sure no bare wires are visible

Much of the extra equipment required for elaborate plug-in decorations may need an electrical supply to power it and Christmas is traditionally a time of year when fires, caused by electrical issues, are most likely to happen. If using lighting or electrical decorations outside, further tips include:

  • Only use outdoor lights that have been specifically designed to be used outside. If you are unsure check the manufacturers’ instructions
  • All outside sockets must be RCD protected for safety. An RCD (residual current device) works by switching off the flow of electricity when a cable or flex is damaged
  • Any fixed or permanent outside lighting should be installed by a registered electrician to ensure it complies with the appropriate safety standards
  • It is never too late to ensure the electrical safety of your home before Christmas. If you are in any doubt about the state of the electrics, then it is always best to seek a professional opinion

For further information or to search for a registered electrician in your area visit