The peak Australian electrical industry body, the National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA) has issued a warning to the general public to take care when buying and installing Christmas lights and other electrical products.

NECA’s Chief Executive Officer James Tinslay explains that it’s always a concern at this time of the year when Christmas lights and other electrical items appear in stores and on the internet as many of the products do not comply with Australian standards.

Customers should make sure they only buy compliant electrical products and be on their guard when buying products manufactured overseas as they may not meet Australian standards.

According to Mr Tinslay, NECA recommends that consumers only buy electrical products from reputable stores and to check for the compliance mark or approval number. He particularly warns buyers about electrical products available online as some of them may be imported and non-compliant with Australian safety standards, making them hazardous as a potential source of fire.

Installing the lights carefully and maintaining them over the festive period will also contribute to a safer environment. For instance, one should ensure there are no overheard power lines or exposed wiring near the place of installation. The local licensed electrician should be called in if dangerous or damaged wiring is noticed.

Consumers must also be aware of the type of Christmas lights and decorations as some of them are designed specifically for indoor use and cannot be used outside. It’s important to only use indoor lights inside and not in any areas where they are exposed to the weather. For outdoor decorations, one should ensure the lights are manufactured specifically for outdoor use.

Outdoor lights should additionally be turned off during heavy rain and high winds as this type of weather can damage the lights and the insulation around the wires, resulting in electrical faults and fire.

Mr Tinslay encourages people to take a few minutes to think about electrical safety to help keep everyone safe over the festive period.

Safety tips for consumers for the festive period:

  • Ensure all electrical products including lights are compliant with Australian safety standards
  • Imported products must be particularly checked for safety compliance
  • Dangerous or damaged wiring must be rectified by a licensed electrician
  • Ensure lights installed outdoors are built for outdoor installation
  • Explain electrical safety concepts to children and ensure they do not play with electricity
  • Check for exposed wires or damaged controllers, lamp holders or bulbs if re-using last year’s Christmas lights
  • Never modify or attempt to repair any lighting equipment
  • Safety concerns should be addressed only by a licensed electrician
  • Get safety switches installed on every electrical circuit in the home
Members of the public can visit and click on the Find an Electrician button to find a licensed electrician in their area.

NECA is the peak industry body representing the interests of over 5,000 electrical and communications contractors Australia-wide.

This article is presented by NECA NSW .