Those Christmas lights…

This weekend we’ll be pulling the Christmas lights out of the loft, and getting ready to put up all the decorations. I love this time of year, but Adrian pretends to be far more of a humbug. I have yet to hear him complain about having Christmas Day off, though!

Christmas lights, keep shining on

There are several things to check on your Christmas lights before you plug them in, and we’ll be doing all of these ourselves.

Our lights at home are only a couple of years old, but that doesn’t automatically mean they’re safe. Last year, Primark issued a recall on fairy lights which had been sold in stores over the previous two months. So although they’re relatively new, we’ll be checking them just the same.

Firstly, we’ll check the plug. Ours, being quite modern, are on an adapter – a large block plug. There’s no fuse cover on this type of plug and it’s a sealed unit, so we’ll check it over for any cracks or other signs of damage then turn our attention to the lights.

If you have older lights, they may be on a standard mains plug. You can open the plug and check the fuse, as well as checking the plug is properly wired and that all connections are secure.

Then check the lights. Replace any broken bulbs or any with signs of heat damage. If any of the lamp holders or wires are showing signs of damage, dispose of the lights and buy a new set. As this video shows, faulty Christmas lights can be highly dangerous. And of course, have a quick look at Electrical Safety First’s product recall pages to make sure yours are safe before you start!

Turn it on

When you plug your lights in, check again for any blown bulbs and unplug the lights before replacing any you find. If your lights buzz, smell hot, or keep blowing a fuse or tripping your electrics, it’s time to replace them. If you’re using an extension lead to power your decorations, make sure you use one long enough to reach; don’t plug a second extension into the first.

Make sure your lights are secure and that there are no trailing wires for people to trip over. The best way to do this, if you have long wires across the floor, is using proper cable guarding. Never put a rug or mat over electrical wires, and make sure no other decorations rest on the light bulbs or LEDs – especially paper ones.

Oh Christmas lights, light up the street

We expect to see some fantastic displays, both by homes and businesses, of Christmas lights going up over the next week or two. Having just tested around sixty strings of lights for a large hotel, I’m more aware than normal of what goes into some of the displays, and all the safety considerations that come with them.  Nobody wants to be in an accident, and this is particularly true at Christmas.

So if you’re using outdoor lights, there are extra precautions you need to take. Ensure that your lights – and any extension leads you may need – are rated for outdoor use. Keep electrical connectors off the ground, and away from metal items such as drainpipes. And make sure you carry out all the checks required for indoor lights too.

It’s not just light chains though – inflatable Santas, nodding reindeer, and musical sleighs all need checking thoroughly before plugging in after 11 months of being stored out of sight. They might even give you clues to other problems – we discovered we had mice in the roof of our first flat when we found gnaw marks on the baubles.

Even the cardboard boxes the lights come in can give you clues – if they’re looking damp or marked, there may a roof leak you didn’t know about. (Our first flat again – it was a bit of a nightmare!) If you think they may have been affected by damp, or if there is evidence that wires have been gnawed or nibbled, replace them – even large strings of lights are cheaper to replace than your home and all belongings.

The twelve days of Christmas

…or twenty, or thirty! It doesn’t matter how long your lights are up for, you should check them every time you plug them in or turn them on, and never leave them plugged in unattended. With proper care and attention you can enjoy your Christmas decorations in peace and safety.

If you want your lights checking, as well as your other appliances, give us a call on 07518 688 233 and we’ll get you started!


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