Christmas Lights Safety Checklist
While it is easy to get caught up in the festive spirit, it is also important to consider the electrical safety of any lights or other electrical decorations. There are so many wonderful and bright decorations available these days but they must be installed correctly and the necessary electrical safety measures taken.
Here are a few tips plus a Christmas lights safety checklist to use to ensure that your displays are safe and don’t pose any danger to property or people.
Check Safety Standards
Look for an Australian Approval Number on any lights being purchased e.g. Q12345, VO1294 or N12345, or the regulatory compliance logo. This indicates that the product complies to Australian standards and is safe to use. If the products have been manufactured overseas, they could have been made where lower safety standards are used so this check is critical.
This is the approval mark – only buy lights that have this symbol. For more information on these markings and what to look for, go here.
The appropriate marking are usually on a tag near the supply plug or in the case of a low voltage light with a transformer, it will be on the body of the transformer.
Importance of Safety Switches
Most homes are now fitted with a safety switch and in terms of electrical safety, this is the best insurance there is. It will cut power immediately if there is anything dangerous detected. If there is not a safety switch installed in your home, now is a good time to upgrade, particularly if using Christmas lights.
If you do have a safety switch, test it before installing the lights to make sure it is working properly.
While checking approval numbers and having a safety switch is important, they are not a replacement for ensuring safe practices and proper electrical maintenance. It is important to be aware of electrical safety and remain vigilant at all times when installing decorations and lights – whether it’s only a few or a whole house spectacle.
Checklist for Christmas Lights
• Lights are sold and marked as for external or internal use. Stick to the intended applications as they are manufactured differently with external lights usually having a transformer.
• Don’t install lights around powerlines and swimming pools. Also keep traffic areas such as walkways or driveways clear of any leads.
• Ensure all outdoor decorations and lights are secure and out of reach of children – reinforce the motto “Look but don’t touch” to children.
• Weatherproof any outdoor connections. There are waterproofing accessories for sale that make this job easy.
• During storms or rain turn off any external lights at the power point. In severe weather it is also a good idea to turn off internal Christmas tree lights as well.
• Seek out lights with extra low voltage (i.e. with a transformer).
• When purchasing lights, always check for an Australian Approval number. If there is no approval number – don’t buy, try somewhere else.
• Don’t piggyback power boards or double adapaters.
• If using old Christmas lights, check all the cords, plugs and lamp holders to ensure there are no exposed wires or damage. If there is any concern about the safety of the lights, get them checked by an electrician before use. Similarly, don’t use damaged electrical leads.
• To prevent extension leads overheating, unwind them completely.
• Always follow manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations.
• If purchasing second hand lights, they may not meet the latest safety requirements for Christmas lights (these have been updated in the last few years). It is advisable to have them checked by a licensed electrical contractor before using them.
• Some lights can become very hot – ensure they are away from anything that may catch fire.
• Turn off Christmas lights before going to bed!
Christmas is a wonderful time of year so follow the checklist above and make sure it is also a safe time around your home.
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I approached PRO Electricians after a letter drop in my neighbourhood. I’d been trying to get some lights I’d bought at Christmas installed but no-one was returning my calls. Steve was prompt, knowledgeable, and on time. I’d be more than happy to use him again for more electrical work.Tom O'Regan
Thanks for your prompt, friendly, excellent workmanship. Your quote was speedy, detailed and accurate and the work done was exactly as promised. Thanks!Elisabeth Akioka