A recent survey conducted by consumer protection charity Electrical Safety First (ESF) found many worrying habits related to the use of Christmas trees by British residents, and prompted safety warnings for the festive period to be issued.
Among the statistics, it is shown that one in eight Brits who purchase a real Christmas tree tend to cover it in hairspray to prevent needles falling off, despite it being highly flammable. Furthermore, one in three respondents said they use tea-lights to decorate their tree, exposing it to a naked flame. The most risky area of the UK when it comes to Christmas tree lights was London, where nineteen per cent of people use lights that don’t work or are damaged; the lights here are also 3.55 years old on average.
The dangers highlighted here mainly relate to real Christmas trees, therefore ESF have urged people to purchase safer artificial trees. Real trees are prone to drying out, however half of people who buy them admit that they do not water their tree. These trees can absorb up to a litre of water everyday, and research suggests that neglecting real trees may be putting British homes at serious risk. The survey done by ESF also found that many of the lights used by British residents are in poor condition, with one in four saying their lights are tangled, risking frayed wires or damaged insulation.
Electrical safety first highlighted these tips for those purchasing Christmas trees:
- check lights are not damaged before use and replace immediately when necessary
- keep lights away from flammable decorations and materials that can burn easily
- switch lights off and unplug them before going to bed
- use lights outdoors unless designed specifically for this
- connect lights to supply whilst still in packaging
- overload sockets – try to avoid using extension leads or adaptors
Worryingly, around one in five of people who use Christmas tree lights admit to leaving them on overnight or when they leave the house. Analysis by ESF showed that last year in the UK, more house fires occurred in December than during any other month.
Director of Communications at ESF, Emma Drackford, said; “Whether your Christmas tree is real or fake, it’s vitally important that you ensure any lights on or around it are in good condition and plugged into sockets that aren’t overloaded.
“Also, station your tree away from any heat sources such as radiators and never leave festive lights switched on when you leave the house or go to bed.”