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Lighting up your Christmas tree

Sleigh bells are ringing, Christmas carols are playing and you are probably about to smother a tree in your home with glittery tinsel, glitzy lights and glam decorations.

Here are a few tips from energysafety.govt.nz on making sure your Christmas tree lights are safe to wrap around your tree and how to minimise risk while they are there.

  • Lights with plugs that are not designed for use in New Zealand should be avoided.
  • If you have an older light set which has bulbs that operate at 230V (mains voltage), connect your lights to an Residual Current Device (RCD).  The RCD will turn the power off if things go wrong, reducing the risk of a fatal electric shock.
  • Check all lights – both old and new – for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections.  If you are unsure about their safety, have them checked by a licensed electrical worker.
  • Replace bulbs with ones of the same voltage and wattage.  The wrong bulbs could cause overheating and start a fire.  Always switch off and unplug light strings before replacing bulbs.
  • Turn off all Christmas lights when you go to bed or leave the house.  If the lights develop a fault, they could start a fire.
  • A tingling sensation is usually a warning of danger.  If you get a tingle from your lights or something touching them (i.e. Christmas decorations on the tree (inside), the house down pipe (outside), turn the lights off immediately and get them checked by a licensed electrical worker, or dispose of them.
  • Try and hang the lights out of the way or high enough so they are less likely to get touched by pets or young children.

If you are using powered Christmas lights outside follow the above advice and also:

  • Check labels to make sure that they are suitable for outside use, and read all instructions carefully before installing your lights.
  • Clean the outside of your house before installing the lights.  Spider webs, leaves and any other debris are a potential fire hazard.
  • Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house walls or other firm supports to protect the lights from wind damage.  Use specially insulated clips to hold them in place and mount them out of reach.

Some Christmas lights are not suitable for repeated use and should be safely disposed of when no longer required.


To find out more click here