More and more of us are decorating the outside of our homes and businesses at Christmas with a variety of stunning festive lights. Whether you’re simply planning to put a few lights out there to impress the neighbours or want to create a whole magical, Winter Wonderland, there are some simple but important safety tips that you need to follow.
Check Existing Lights
Before you start putting up your existing external Christmas Lights, you will need to check that they are working properly. Plug them in and scan for broken bulbs which will need to be replaced, like for like. Make sure you buy bulbs that are suitable for outside use and don’t take out or put in new bulbs while the lights are plugged into the mains.
Now is a good time to check the plug casing for damage and make sure the wires are all still insulated. If you spot any damage to the wiring or a problem with the plug, it’s always best to throw out the lights and get new ones rather than risk using them.
Buying New Lights
Always buy lights, whether outdoor or indoors, from a reputable supplier. Your product should be CE marked/BS kitemarked and there should be clear instructions on how to use outside. Absolutely avoid buying or using second-hand lights unless you are completely sure where they come from.
You should NEVER use lights outdoors that were not intended for that purpose. They aren’t insulated properly and certainly aren’t weatherproof.
Connecting Your Lights
All external lights need to be connected via a 30mA RCD protected socket and should be plugged in indoors or in an external plug that has been professionally installed by a qualified electrician. If you are a tenant, you will need your landlord’s permission to carry out this work. Avoid overloading a socket with too many plugs. Never use an extension socket outside, wrapping it in a carrier bag to protect it from the elements will NOT work. It’s much better to be safe rather than sorry when it comes to your lighting show rather than risking electrical damage and a potential fire.
If you are just putting up a few strings of outdoor lights and don’t have the money or inclination to put in the right plug connections, the best option is to go for solar lights that work through a battery. Again, you need to make sure that these are purchased from a reputable source and are fit for using outside. If you are going for a major display it is worth getting an electrician in.
Here are some important, additional safety tips to remember:
- Don’t hang your lights on anything metal and make sure that they are properly secured.
- Don’t put them anywhere people, especially children, can trip over or damage them.
- Hide away cables leading to the plug socket and bind separate cords together to keep them safe and prevent entanglement.
- Don’t use metal tacks or pins to put up your Christmas lights, always use insulated holders.
- Don’t leave your lights on overnight or when you go out for the evening.
Done safely, outdoor Christmas lights can certainly add plenty of festive spirit to your home or office. The good news is there are plenty of products on the market from simple light strings to sparkling Santa’s and luminous reindeer. Always make sure, however, that you take a safety first approach and follow the safety tips above and instructions included with the appliances… Enjoy!