The leading lighting manufacturer offers key advice on Christmas light safety



With recent ONS figures revealing that UK shoppers are spending 26 per cent more on their Christmas lights than a decade ago, Osram is urging consumers to be mindful of the potential dangers when purchasing and installing Christmas lights this weekend.


Last year, more than 8.3 million Christmas lights, worth over £54 million[i], were purchased by shoppers. With more than 350 recorded accidents[ii] in the UK, caused by Christmas lights alone, Osram is prompted to recommend a ‘safety first’ approach. Injuries suffered included falls while putting up interior and outdoor lighting, children swallowing bulbs, electric shocks, burns and electrocution, as well as injuries from faulty lights that have caught fire when left on overnight or when people leave their home.


Chris Davey, Technical Service Engineer at Osram warns: “It’s so easy to get carried away with the excitement of unpacking Christmas lights and decorations. On the surface Christmas lights appear harmless, but like any electrical product, must be treated with care, particularly if they have been in storage for a long period. Those who take a moment to assess the safety of their lights could be preventing themselves and their families from serious injury.”


Osram is offering the following top tips to homeowners planning to unpack and hang up Christmas lights this week:


  • Remember, you haven’t touched your lights since January, so unpack and unravel your Christmas lights carefully from the box to ensure you don’t damage or expose any of the wiring.
  • Check for the CE mark – but be aware that even this can sometimes be used fraudulently. Some Christmas lights carry a mark that looks a lot like the CE mark, but stands for  ‘China Export’ rather than ‘Conformité Européenne’. The diagram below shows the subtle difference:




  • Double check that your Christmas lights don’t have lead contaminated wiring.  Lead wiring was banned by the EU in 2006 as over-exposure to lead can damage a child’s health and behaviour.  While it shouldn’t be present in any new lights, if you have any old boxes then it is worth checking and throwing them out if they contain lead.
  • Look out for broken bulbs before switching on your lights. Failing to do this can lead to electrocution. If in any doubt, buy a new set.
  • Test the lights before hanging them on the tree, and decorate the tree before hanging the lights.  Do not turn the lights on until you have finished decorating your tree.
  • Plug an RCD device into your mains supply. Available from most specialist lighting retailers or hardware stores for around £10, an RCD (residual current device) offers an extra level of protection from electrocution, cutting the mains supply if a fault is detected such as current leakage.
  • Especially important when installing outdoor Christmas lights, make sure the IP rating of the product (which should be clearly marked on the packaging) is suitable for where you’re hanging your lights.  IP stands for Ingress Protection, and indicates to the consumer where lights can and can not be used.
  • Make sure you buy any new Christmas lights from a well-known manufacturer.  This ensures traceability, that the product is manufactured to local standards, and that the product will be offered with a guarantee.  If you purchase them from an unknown supplier on the internet or in a town market for example, then the original manufacturer could be unknown and virtually impossible to contact.  OSRAM Christmas lights are available from specialist lighting retailers.

i] Figures on Christmas light sales obtained from Office National Statistics – Product sales and trend report for Lighting Equipment and Electric Lamps – 2002 and 2012

[ii] NHS Choices report – Keep safe this Christmas, 2012

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