May your house be merry, bright and safe

On: 7 December 2016

As families put up the tree and plug in the Christmas lights this December, Trading Standards urges consumers to avoid a shock by decorating safely.

“As you gather the kids around to decorate the tree, remember Christmas decorations are rarely child safe. Glass ornaments may break in small hands and glitter can cause eye irritation - not to mention a big mess,” says MBIE Trading Standards Principal Advisor Martin Rushton.

“Be mindful of small parts in Christmas decorations that may pose a choking hazard. Keep items such as bells, fake berries, glued on eyes, and light bulbs away from children’s mouths.

“Many musical decorations contain button batteries, which not only pose a choking hazard, but can cause nasty chemical burns if swallowed by a child. Look for battery pack covers that are secured by screws so children can’t access them.

“Keep the lower layers of the tree free of ornaments that can be grabbed by little hands and educate older children to look but not touch.

“If you’re using a real Christmas tree, remember pine trees are quite flammable so keep candles away, clear dropped needles and don’t let the tree dry out,” says Mr Rushton.

Worksafe Energy Safety Manager Mark Wogan adds the following tips for lighting up the tree safely:

“Don’t buy or use Christmas lights that don’t have a normal plug you would use at home, even if you are supplied a travel adaptor to fit the socket outlet. If the lights come with an extension cord, check that it will run down from the plug rather than up.

“Decorative lighting used outside, including the plugs and power points, should be physically covered from the rain and other conditions and lower voltage lighting is the safer option.

“If a Residual Current Device is not fitted on your switchboard, I recommend purchasing a portable plug-in one. It will power everything off quickly if something goes wrong.

“Always do a risk assessment first and if in doubt don’t take chances,” says Mr Wogan.

Keeping these tips in mind when decking the halls will ensure a safe Christmas for your family.

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