There is nothing more heart-warming on a cold December night than seeing a Christmas tree decorated with beautiful, twinkling lights.
You may have fallen asleep on the sofa with their warm glow filling up the room, or even left them on overnight. But is this safe?
There are differing opinions on whether it is safe to leave Christmas tree lights on for long periods of time, and whether or not they are a fire hazard.
If you aren’t sure whether your Christmas tree lights are safe or not then keep reading. We have put together this useful information which tells you everything you need to know.
Are Christmas Lights A Fire Hazard?
Some people would argue that Christmas lights are not a hazard, but there are some facts that indicate the danger of Christmas lights.
Christmas lights tend to be quite simple and cheaply made, and do not undergo rigorous testing like other kinds of household lights.
They are designed to be used for several hours at a time. Having them on overnight can cause them to overheat or frazzle the wires, leading to a greater risk of an electrical fire.
Christmas trees are very flammable, even the artificial ones, so even if you have a small spark coming from your Christmas tree lights it can quickly turn into a large blaze that spreads through the room and even through the house.
If you keep wrapped Christmas presents underneath your tree then this leaves even more combustible material within reach of the sparking lights, making a fire even more likely.
The lights don’t necessarily need to spark and frazzle in order to cause a fire. If the individual bulbs become too hot, this could singe the christmas tree and cause a fire.
It would start slowly, but it would eventually become a large fire that could be very dangerous. Another cause of Christmas light fires is overloading plug sockets.
If you are struggling to find enough electric sockets to plug in your television, your game consoles, your surround sound speakers and all of your Christmas lights then you might be tempted to plug several multi-sockets together.
This is unsafe and can easily lead to an electrical fire. People often keep the same Christmas lights for many years and use them repeatedly.
While they might spend time untangling the lights every year, they will rarely check the integrity and condition of all of the wiring and cables.
This is risky as you won’t be able to spot frayed wires.
Home insurance companies receive a larger number of fire related claims in the month of December than any other month of the year.
This shows a strong correlation between Christmas decorations and fire hazards.
(However, this could also be due to cooking a Christmas dinner while intoxicated, poorly placed Christmas candles, or hanging flammable stockings over a fireplace).
How To Reduce The Risk
While Christmas lights are a fire hazard, we are not suggesting that you go through Christmas without using them.
However, there are things you can do to reduce the risk and make a fire much less likely.
Choose Good Quality Lights
You might be tempted to go for the cheapest lights - Christmas is expensive enough already! However, the cheaper lights are less likely to be well made and to be safety tested.
Spending a little bit more money could be the difference between a safe Christmas and a fire hazard.
LED lights are more energy efficient than traditional fairy lights and the bulbs remain cool to the touch. This makes them a much safer option.
They use less power which means that the cables will not wear down as quickly. Try to choose LED lights with rubber cabling for ultimate safety.
Turn Off The Lights At Night
While you might be tempted to leave the Christmas tree lights on overnight to make your house look cozy from the street or to give you a nice welcome when you come down for your morning coffee, this is actually very dangerous.
If there are any issues with overheating or frayed cables and a fire starts, you will not notice it until the fire alarm goes off.
By then, there could already be significant damage to the tree and any nearby items. The longer the lights are left on, the greater the risk of a fire.
Turn them off when you leave the house, when you go to bed, or even when it is too light outside to see them. This will also save you money on your energy bill.
Do Not Overload Your Plug Socket
It is very important that you never overload your plug socket.
If you do not have enough plug sockets for your Christmas tree lights then you can use an extension cord and plug them in on the other side of the room, hiding the cord behind furniture (be careful that this does not cause a tripping hazard).
Alternatively, you can hire an electrician to add an extra plug socket.
This will cost money, but you will not have to take any risks and you will know that you have enough sockets for the Christmas tree lights every year going forward.
Choose A Fresh Tree
If you are using a real tree rather than an artificial one, make sure it is as fresh as possible. The older the tree gets, the drier it will be, and this increases the fire hazard significantly.
The drier the tree, the easier it will catch fire and the quicker it will burn. Try not to buy your tree too early in order to prevent it from drying out before Christmas.
Christmas tree lights can be a fire hazard and they have potential to cause a lot of damage.
However, there are things that you can do to mitigate that risk and ensure that you have a safe Christmas.