Tonight the Oxford Street Christmas lights will be turned on for the 60th time, but don’t worry, they’re not using the same bulbs as they did in the 1960s. In fact, the technology is brand-new for 2019, and the street will be illuminated with modern and energy-efficient LEDs.
Unfortunately, not everyone has the big budget that is available to Oxford Street, and may still be dealing with older christmas lights. Obviously, older lights are perfectly fine, as long as you ensure that they’re safe to use. Thankfully, the British Standard Institution (BSI) has released some advice for how to ensure your christmas cheer doesn’t become festive fear.
When digging your Christmas lights out of storage:
1. Check the condition of the cable insulation for nicks and tears. If there's exposed wire, there could be a risk of electrical shock.
2. Check the fuse bulb - this will be a different color to the other bulbs in the set. Only use replacement fuse bulbs from the product you purchased to make sure it's the same as the others, to avoid overheating. Remember, LED-style christmas lights cannot be replaced, so if the bulbs are out, you'll need to buy a new set.
3. Do not change the plug top on your lights - if it has a large plug top to reduce the voltage from the mains, it must not be replaced for a smaller one or you could risk overheating.
When buying new lights...
1. Look for certification and safety marks - that way you'll know they meet safety and performance requirements. Look for a CE mark as minimum requirement for Europe, or look for the BSI Kitemark, which signals even more comprehensive quality checks.
2. Avoid second-hand lights - they may well have been tested a long time ago.
When putting your lights up...
1. Don't use indoor lights outdoors. Check the warning notice on the label of the product as this will tell you the limitations.
2. Don't overload extension leads. Check the current rating marked on the extension lead and don't exceed that. And avoid connecting extension leads to extension leads.