Twinkle your little stars safely this Christmas

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Untangling last year’s fairy lights might seem like the biggest challenge you’ll face when putting up your Christmas lights, but an electricity company is warning of hidden dangers in your decorations.

UK Power Networks who provide electricity to the East of Englad are offering some advice on how to put your Christmas lights up safely.

Head of health and safety Nick Rogers said: “A few simple precautions will enable everyone to enjoy their Christmas lights in safety.

“Keep an eye out for any power lines which come into your home as you might not notice how close they are when you’re working at height. Electricity can jump gaps so before starting work look up and keep well away from any overhead wires. Power lines regularly get mistaken for phone lines, so keep away from them if you’re not sure.

“If you’re using a ladder to hang the lights, make sure it is stable and won’t get close to any overhead lines when carrying or positioning it. Any objects which come close to overhead electricity lines can cause a flashover which could injure or even kill, even at the domestic voltage.”

Sometimes overhead electricity lines can be attached to one property and split off to serve several homes. In these cases the cables are often clipped below the guttering along the façade of several houses so extra care should be taken not to come into contact with these cables which may not be obvious at first glance.

Using a Residual Current Device (RCD) at the socket outlet where your lights are connected provides safety protection in the event of a fault or damage to your lights.

Controlling the risks around indoor lights is just as important, particularly if the lights are old and don’t meet the latest safety standards. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has further advice on their website

Here are some further tips to stay safe this Christmas:

Keep ladders well clear of overhead power lines

Take care when working at height and use any ladders safely

Consider replacing any old lights with latest specification low voltage lights

Check that lighting used outdoors is designed for outdoor use

Use a residual current device for electrical protection

Ensure any fuse is of the correct rating for the lights

Never join flexes together or run them under the carpet

Check old lights carefully and look out for frayed or broken wires

Replace dead bulbs promptly while the power is switched off

Position your tree near to a power socket to avoid trailing wiring

Switch fairy lights off when going out or going to bed

Keep lights clear of decorations and other flammable materials

Avoid overloading plug sockets