Your home – and your safety – could be at risk from dangerous lights and dodgy electrics this Christmas.

A study has found people have a lack of concern for their safety when the decorations go up.

Less than a quarter of people polled said they consider the impact their Christmas lights might have on the electrics in their home.

The survey found 42 per cent of people pay more attention to aesthetics than safety, with one in five admitting to feeling they need to compete with their friends and neighbours.

Using multiple sockets and extension leads can pose a danger, but only three per cent of people said they were concerned about the amount of lights they were using.

More than half of people admitted to the repeated use of lights year after year that are not properly checked and nearly a third use the same lights for five years or more.

The survey of 2,000 tenants and homeowners was commissioned by electricians’ regulatory body and inspection service NICEIC and ELECSA.

The organisation has issued the top five tips to ensure your home is electrically safe this Christmas:

1. Do not overload sockets – try to avoid extensive use of extension sockets and adapters. Do not plug multiple extensions into each other.

2. Do not re-wire your lights – many homeowners will be tempted, or have already rewired lights to include two, three or sometimes four sets of lights into a single plug. This is dangerous and causes a potential fire risk.

3. Make sure lights you use outside are certified safe for external use - only use outdoor lights that have been specifically designed to be used outdoors. If you are unsure check the manufacturers’ instructions.

4. Do not leave lights on for long periods – many homes will be tempted to keep lights on for 24 hours, overnight or even more concerning, leave them on when they go out. All Christmas lights increase the risk of fire and overloading and should only be switched on whilst you are at home.

5. Always use Christmas lights that have been certified for use – this can be identified by the European Standards Symbol (represented by CE) and the British Standards Kitemark. If in doubt, don’t use them. Always buy lights from reputable stores.

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Faulty electrics in the home account for 20,000 house fires each year, causing upwards of 70 fatalities.

Tony Cable, senior electrical engineer for NICEIC and ELECSA, said there are additional concerns at Christmas.

He said: “Electrical safety in the home is important at any time of the year, but at Christmas we tend to forget that all the decorative lights we use around the home massively increase the dangers to our family.

“Just grabbing old lights from the loft and plugging them in isn’t acceptable. Everyone needs to be aware of the dangers and take into account the risks when getting competitive with their neighbours.”

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