‘Elf and safety’ in the home at Christmas

During the festive season we spend more time in our homes, using extra electricity with Christmas lights, games consoles plugged in for hours at a time, and generally from more people just being around.

You may have already put up your Christmas tree and slipped into your elf pyjamas, ready for the big day, but here are some safety precautions you should take to stay safe to avoid electrical-mishaps.

To help you practice safety in the home as you sit by your fireplace, enjoying the lighting and plenty of mince pies, we asked an electrician for some top tips. You can see what he had to say below.

For more help and advice with electrical safety in the run up to Christmas, find a skilled tradesperson on Rated People.

FIND AN ELECTRICIAN

How many electrical products is it safe to plug into one socket at the same time?

According to our electrician, this depends on the rating of the socket circuit as well as the fuse rating. Socket circuits are rated either 32a, 20a or 16a. ‘A’ standing for amperage.

A fuse is added to all plug tops to protect wiring. They are designed to break the circuit if a fault in the appliance causes too much current (heat) to build up, which stops a fire before it can start.

To practice good safety when dealing with electrics in your home, make sure the appliances plugged into one socket lead do not collectively exceed a current of 13a. All appliances will have the amperage rating printed on them.

This will make sure the temperature stays low enough to avoid the plug overheating.

Extensions off extensions are also recipes for disaster. Don’t make extension cables work too hard by overloading them with plugs on top of plugs. And you should always inspect them for cracks and any evidence of unsafe electrical connections.

Many fires in the home are caused by overloading extension leads, so be sure to check the amperage of each appliance you are plugging in.

How to know if Christmas lights are safe?

Lights are a wonderful part of Christmas décor in your home but can also have the potential to become a safety hazard.

Whether your lights are adorning your Christmas tree, lighting up your walls, or are outside your house, you can check to be certain they are as safe as they are beautiful!

The first thing you should look for on your lights is a ‘CE’ mark. A CE mark means that the light complies with European safety regulations and is safe to use.

They may also have a BSI kitemark which is a stamp from the global regulator, BSI, telling you the product has undergone tests and is safe for customers.

Lastly, you’ll want to look out for a label instructing as to whether you should use the light indoors or outdoors – indoor lights have different safety characteristics compared to outdoor lights.

Have Christmas lights and holiday colours got you inspired to change up your home décor? Find a painter and decorator on Rated People.

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How can you safely put up and take down outdoor Christmas lights?

The most important part of putting up and taking down Christmas lights is to make sure they are switched off and not connected to a plug socket as you do it. Communicate with anyone helping you to make sure they aren’t suddenly plugged in!

When plugging in your lights be careful to tuck the wires and cables away from the flow of traffic throughout your home. All pathways should be clear, including any shortcuts to get you from one side of the room to the other. Keeping the wires out of sight is best, for the visual factor more than anything. If you have animals, it’s worth keeping in mind that they might move the wires out of place, so you’ll want to check on them more often. You might be lucky enough to escape the tree being knocked over and baubles flying everywhere, but cats enjoy pulling at loose wires!

Electric oven maintenance tips

Food plays a central role in making Christmas so great. Electric ovens tend to get a big seal of approval from home cooks because they provide steady heat for an all-round even cook during the baking process.

During the Christmas period ovens get used more than usual, especially in preparation for the 25th!

This is what our electrician had to say about how to maintain your oven safely over Christmas.

Make sure your oven is cleaned regularly – at least twice a year – and kept grease free. If not, burnt-food can build up, re-burn and lead to a fire.

Having a spare heating element is handy. If yours breaks, a professional electrician will be able to come and replace it for you without having to source one.

You can find the make and model number of your oven on a plate that is usually located inside the oven door or on the side of the oven. Electricians will be on call over Christmas but often struggle to find the element you need.

Changing smoke alarms

Changing the batteries in your smoke alarms is always a good practice when it comes to safety at home – you can also do a quick test even if you’ve changed them recently.

You should vacuum the inside of the alarm every six months to remove dust from the sensor and you can vacuum through the holes if you have the secure type that doesn’t open. Your home is more flammable over Christmas thanks to the decorations and tree – unless you’ve opted for a flame-resistant artificial one.

How can you safely maintain an electric fireplace?

Nothing creates a warming, cosy atmosphere at Christmas time quite like a fireplace. And, with an electric fire you can choose from a range of unique fireplace décor designs to suit your taste and style.

As opposed to a traditional fireplace, there is very little you need to do to maintain it. As with all things electric though, you still need to take care of your electric fire to keep it running smoothly and, more importantly, safely.

Before cleaning around or inspecting your fireplace make sure it is turned off and unplugged.

Keeping the area around your fireplace dust free is also recommended along with ensuring there is nothing combustible on or around it.

Do you need help installing, maintaining, or fixing your electric fireplace? Find a local fireplace specialist on Rated People.

FIND A FIREPLACE SPECIALIST

How can you tell if an electric fireplace is faulty?

According to our electrician, most fuse boards connected to electric fireplaces are now fitted with an RCD which will trip if any element is faulty. An RCD is a life-saving device designed to prevent you from getting a fatal electric shock if you happen to touch a live wire.

If the element is not working correctly, it will disappear or become black or a dull orange. If this happens, do not touch it as it can still be very hot.

If your electric fireplace is faulty, or you suspect it is, the safest action you can take is to call out an electric fireplace specialist.

Fireplace decoration

The garland along the fireplace mantel is a Christmas film must-have but you need to be extra careful when letting air into the room if you have a real fire.

It’s unlikely that you’ll ever open a window while the fire’s on, but should it happen, pay attention to the way that the wind’s blowing. It could create a mess in front of your fireplace but more importantly, if tinsel were to fall down, it could blow straight into the fire, with the potential of it blazing out of control.

With all that in mind, Rated People would like to wish you a very happy and safe Christmas!

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