Warning on Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights FrameI noticed that the shops are starting to put up their festive period decorations and even some of the home owners in my suburb are getting in early with installing lights and decorations.  It seems more and more get into to the spirit each year.

Every year LMI are called to at least one premises where Christmas lights or a power board used to power decorations is the likely cause of a fire.

Ironically, it can be to a company that takes risk management seriously and they carry out regular testing and tagging and yet allow someone to purchase and install cheap imported lights without considering the danger. How could anything so beautiful be so dangerous!

I do not want to be a party pooper, but rather just want to make sure you and your client’s enjoy the festive season and it does not turn into, literally, a Black Christmas.  Here are some basic advice for the safe operation of Christmas lights and decorations:

  • A lot of lights are designed for internal use only. Never use decorative lights outdoors unless they are specifically designed for such use.
  • Even with ones designed for use outside, do not use them where they are exposed to moisture or in direct bad weather;
  • Similarly make sure extension cords are suitable for outdoor use;
  • Keep the transformers and lights away from combustible materials;
  • Candles are particularly dangerous around Christmas trees and make sure they are not going to blow or be knocked over;
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding assembly, installation and globe replacement;
  • If using the same lights from year to year, make sure they are in good condition and there is no exposed (uninsulated) wiring before installation.
  • At the end of the season, make sure they are dismantled and packed away carefully after use;
  • Even exterior lights can be effected by the harsh Australian sun light. Do not leave them up all year long.
  • Do not use damaged or faulty decorative lights; Do not cover or modify decorative lights;
  • Always switch off and unplug decorative lights when unattended or when watering a real Christmas tree;
  • Do not overload power boards or electrical circuits;
  • You are best sticking to well established and trusted brands;
  • Keep an eye out for any product recalls of all electrical appliances including Christmas lights;
  • Observe and monitor the correct operation of your decorative lights when unpacked and initially used; and
  • In households with infants and young children, consider using extra-low-voltage (less than 50 Volts AC) decorative lights supplied from an approved transformer.

I end with a photo of a claim I attended a couple of years back where the cause was traced to a $15 set of Christmas lights. It can and does happen!Christmas light fire

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