Make an electric check part of your routine this winter

The NICEIC & ELECSA are reissuing a crucial message as we approach the Christmas season; think safety first when decorating your home this Christmas.

The UK’s leading regulatory body for electricians NICEIC and ELECSA surveyed 2,000 UK tenants and homeowners. With 9 in 10 of us using lights to decorate this Christmas, some disturbing facts have been revealed about our attitude to electric safety over the festive period. In excess of 1 in 4 showed no concern about the safety of the lights they are using. This result is marginally better than the response to the 2015 study. Tony Cable, Senior Electrical Engineer for NICEIC and ELECSA said;

“Electrical safety in the home is important at any time of the year, but at Christmas we tend to forget that all the decorative lights we use around the home massively increase the dangers to our family. Just grabbing old lights from the loft and plugging them in isn’t acceptable. Everyone needs to be aware of the dangers and take into account the risks”.

Faulty electrics in the home account for 20,000 house fires each year, causing upwards of 70 fatalities. Most electrical issues in the home are easily preventable by ensuring your home is regularly checked electrically by a suitable, registered electrician.

Last year it was highlighted that people use the same Christmas lights year on year and 2016 has shown similar results.  65% of Brits are guilty of  reusing lights, which is a 5% increase on last year.

A further concern that the study unveiled is that 97% of Brits do not consider the amount of Christmas lights they have running on their tree, across the home, and in the garden; Vicente McNeill, a London based electrician is all too familiar with this issue:

“The most common problem that occurs at Christmas is over-loading due to people plugging in too many lights... In my opinion, homeowners are not aware of the strain they are putting on their home systems.”

Brits are advised to think safety first when decorating their home this Christmas. To assist NICEIC and ELECSA have identified the top five tips to ensure your home is electrically safe this Christmas;

1.       Do not overload sockets – Try to avoid extensive use of extension sockets and adapters. Do not plug multiple extensions into each other.

2.       Do not re-wire your lights – Many homeowners will be tempted, or have already rewired lights to include 2, 3 or sometimes 4 sets of lights into a single plug. This is dangerous and causes a potential fire risk.

3.       Make sure lights you use outside are certified safe for external use - Only use outdoor lights that have been specifically designed to be used outdoors. If you are unsure check the manufacturers’ instructions.

4.       Do not leave lights on for long periods – Many homes will be tempted to keep lights on for 24 hours, overnight or even more concerning, leave them on when they go out. All Christmas lights increase the risk of fire and overloading and should only be switched on whilst you are at home.

5.       Always use Christmas lights that have been certified for use – This can be identified by the European Standards Symbol (represented by CE) and the British Standards Kitemark. If in doubt, don’t use them. Always buy lights from reputable stores.

If anyone is concerned about the safety of their home electrics, or would like to obtain professional advice about their Christmas lights, they can visit www.niceic.com/safechristmas or www.elecsa.co.uk/safechristmas to find the latest advice and tips and to find a registered electrician.