This weekend will see many UK families decorating their homes ready for the festive season. However new research carried out by the NICEIC (National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting) and ELECSA has revealed that more than 19 million British homes could be at risk from fire over the festive season.
Are You At Risk Of A Fire This Christmas?
90% of British families admit to decorating their home and garden over the next few weeks, less than a quarter even consider the impact that these lights might have on the electrics in their home. The study surveyed homeowners and tenants and found that nearly half of them paid more attention to the visual effect than to the electrical safety, with 20% admitting to feeling they needed to compete with their friends and neighbours.
So many people just grab the old lights from the loft and admit to plugging them in without so much as checking for degradation, this is not something that should be considered acceptable. Everyone needs to be aware of the dangers and take into account the risks of an electrical fire from worn wiring, especially when getting competitive with the neighbours. However with the increase in use of decorative lights there is an added concern, the additional use of multiple sockets and extension leads, yet less than 3% of people were actually concerned about the amount of lights they used and whether the lights were or could be of danger to their family and property.
At Christmas time we tend to forget that the fairy lights we use around the home hugely increases the dangers to our property and family, but we should remember that Electrical safety in the home is important at any time of the year. The survey also found that many householders do not fully understand the British Safety Kitemark.
The most common problem that occurs at Christmas, is the over-loading and strain that people put on the electrical system due to plugging in too many lights, so people are advised to think safety first when decorating their home this Christmas.
The top tips to ensure your home stay electrically safe this Christmas as identified by the NICEIC and ELECSA.
- Do not overload sockets – Try to avoid extensive use of extension sockets and adapters. Do not plug multiple extensions into each other.
- Do not re-wire your lights – So many people will be tempted to, or have already rewired lights to include two, three or sometimes four sets of lights into a single plug. This is not only dangerous but is a potential fire risk.
- Make sure the 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.
- Do not leave lights on for long periods – Many homeowners will be tempted to keep lights on for 24 hours, overnight or even more concerning, leave them on when they go out or go to bed. All Christmas lights increase the risk of fire and overloading and should only be switched on whilst you are at home.
- Always use Christmas lights that have been certified for use – This can be identified by the European Standards Symbol (represented by a CE) and the British Standards Kitemark. If in doubt, don’t use them.
- Always buy lights from reputable stores.
Most electrical issues in the home are easily preventable and with faulty electrics in the home accounting for 20,000 house fires each year which frighteningly causes upwards of 70 fatalities.
I am the last person that would want to put a damper on your festive enjoyment, but please, please, please – stay safe.
Until next time