It’s Christmas again. Each year local emergency services respond to incidents resulting from non-compliant or faulty electrical equipment, including Christmas decorations and lights. When putting up and using Christmas decorations and lights, you must consider the causes of common electrical fires. Following proper safety precautions and knowing how to power your Christmas lights and displays is the best way to make your holiday not only merry and bright but also safe.
Inspect Old Lights and Decorations
Before using last year’s Christmas decorations, it is essential to inspect them for damage or exposed wires. Inspection of the plug, leads, blowers, and lamp holders will determine if they are safe to use. If you’re using secondhand lights, check to ensure the lights meet the latest safety requirements, including having insulated pins. (All electrical appliances sold in Australia after 2006 must-have pins.) If a plug doesn’t have insulated pins, your Christmas decorations are probably over 15 years old, and you should replace them with new Christmas decorations. All plug-in Christmas lights must have an Australian certificate of approval tag.
Power Boards and Timers
Only use power boards and lights meeting Australian safety standards for outdoor use. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Some lights suitable for outdoor use may require a transformer located indoors and away from the effects of weather. Outdoor Christmas lights should have an IP rating number showing how weatherproof the light is; For example, outdoor equipment must have a rating of at least IP23.
Since we have different schedules, control the lighting of our indoor and outdoor Christmas decorations with an electrical timer. These energy-efficient controls automatically turn on and off the power to your decorations at times you set.
Outdoor lighting tips
- Only use lights intended for outdoors; all outdoor lights and connections must be weatherproof.
- Take special care to securely install outdoor lights and decorations to avoid damage from the weather.
- Use LED or extra-low-voltage lights (5V, 12V, or 24V).
- Don’t put Christmas lighting or any electrical decoration above, near, or around water.
- Don’t run electrical leads over footpaths or driveways.
- Avoid damage by running electrical leads through doorways and windows.
Before installing outdoor decorations, decide on the display and types of lights you will use so you can ensure you have the right connections. Deciding which type of popular bulb is a simple decision.
- C7 are the older style or classic bulbs, perfect for decorating trees and shrubs.
- C9 (larger than C7) and icicle lights are easier to use on your roof.
Once you have decided on your display and the safe electrical needs, consider the following connection safety standards before starting your actual setup. Follow these general tips on safely connecting and using electrical equipment and Christmas lights:
- Test all safety switches and smoke detectors to ensure they are working correctly.
- Use power boards fitted with overload protection and avoid putting the plug from one board into another board.
- Unwind all extension leads before use to prevent overheating.
- Only use factory-made extension leads or those made by a licensed electrical contractor.
- Use only items intended for outdoor applications.
- Stage all the equipment you will need in the areas you will use.
- Use a sturdy ladder with insulated holders to hang decorations on your roof and in trees.
- Avoid those power lines!
- Tuck away all extension cords along walls or under mats.
- With properly rated outlets installed outside, place junctions off the ground to prevent water and or snow short circuits.
- If the power to your decorations disconnects after plugging them in, check your circuit breaker. A tripped circuit breaker means you have too much plugged into an outlet. Never try to maintain power by turning the circuit breaker back on.
- Electrical fires can start quickly. Have a fire extinguisher installed in an accessible area of your home. DO NOT USE WATER as it will cause the fire to spread and increase the likelihood of electrocution. Speak to experts about how best to be prepared for a fire.
Glenco Best Tips How to Power Your Christmas Lights and Decorations
To prevent an accident, use Glenco’s best tips below:
- Use only Australian-compliant lights. Non-compliant lights bought online don’t always meet current Australian standards.
- Children and pets are in the most danger. Keep all decorations out of their reach.
- Use outdoor and indoor lights and decorations as intended. Both have specific uses.
- Before installing your Christmas lights, test them while on the ground.
- Turn the power off before putting up your Christmas lights or changing bulbs.
- Before going to bed or leaving your home, turn off all decorations and lights.
- Always unplug any lights when watering live plants.
If you have any worries about the safety of your Christmas decorations, get them checked by one of the licensed electricians at Glenco.
Glenco has over 30 years of experience and knowledge of operating in Sydney. We take pride in providing reliable Electrical and Fire Protection Services that are up to date and follow Australian Safety Regulations. Contact us today for help with any of your electrical needs.