News Next article

Deck the halls… safely

To make sure you have a safe and festive Christmas, safe lights for the tree is key. But what can you do to check?

By Trade Me 5 February 2021

Making sure your Christmas tree lights are safe

Tis’ the season to be jolly!

But not so jolly that you would use unsafe Christmas lights.

A classic Kiwi trick is to throw a bunch of tinsel on the tree and whip around a line of Christmas tree lights (or fairy lights as they are also known) and hope the bloody thing stays up.

You don’t want the tree to catch fire though, so you should make sure that the Christmas lights you buy for the tree (or the fairy lights for the patio) are safe to use.

Energy Safety, who know a thing or two about electrical goods, have advised of the need to be wary of unsafe decorative lights which can and have caused fires and electrocutions due to their shonky designs.

Richard Lamb of Energy Safety has let us know that:

“Christmas lights are deemed high risk, because of the way we use them, draped around trees, furnishing and people’s homes. They are attractive to small children, infants and pets, which increases the chances of them causing harm.”

Most Christmas lights on the market are safe – but some are not and present a real risk of fire and electric shock.

So, Richard further suggests that Trade Me members should only buy lights that have a ‘recognised approval’.

He recommends that “you ask the seller for this approval and a supplier declaration”.

You can find out more in our buyer’s guide to electrical safety.

Conversely, this means that suppliers of lights must have made the appropriate declaration prior to listing Christmas lights on the Trade Me site.

Sellers should check out our seller’s guide to electrical safety and our expectations about it.

The general advice from Energy Safety is that you should only buy fairy lights with a normal ‘New Zealand’ plug and never ones that are supplied with foreign plug and an adaptor.

Trade Me totally agrees with this and we will remove any ‘foreign plugs’ listings or those that feature adaptor plugs to use with foreign plugs. If you see any, let us know via Community Watch.

Richard also offers some more sound advice:

  • Check that the cord extends down from the plug and check that the pins have insulation about half way up the pins.
  • It’s a good idea to connect fairy lights through a residual-current (RCD) device.
  • Check your old lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Be very careful if you are buying second-hand lights.
  • When changing light bulbs, take care to swap like for like.
  • Always turn the lights off when you go to bed (maybe put them on a timer?).
  • If you get a tingling sensation from the lights or anything they are touching, then turn them off, get them checked out by an electrician or dispose of them.
  • If you are using fairy lights outside, make sure they are suitable for this purpose, are clear of any potential fire hazards and secured against the elements.
  • Have a merry and safe Christmas!

Tis’ the season to be jolly!


Trade Me
Trade Me

Written by one of Trade Me motoring experts - giving you advice on used cars, new cars, boats, motorbikes, dirt bikes, caravans, trucks, trailers and more.