Putting decorations up around the house is the first clear sign the festive period has begun. Some neighbourhoods even have friendly competitions to see who can install the best and brightest light displays. But whether you’re simply hanging a few fairy lights around your tree, or planning on a full LED nativity scene, you need to be certain that the lights you’re using are safe.

Here are a few tips to ensure your Christmas lights don’t deliver any nasty surprises…

Check old lights carefully

It’s always a good idea to plug in your lights and check they’re still working when you retrieve them from the loft or garage. But first, you should examine them to ensure there are no signs corrosion, especially if they’ve been stored somewhere that’s prone to damp.

Make sure they comply with safety regulations

When you buy your lights, look for recognised safety standard certificates like the BSI kitemark. Be wary of buying cheap lights online – chances are they have been imported without undergoing stringent safety tests.

When installing your lights, always be mindful of hazards

Make sure cables are not trailing in a place where people could trip over them. If you are decorating a real Christmas tree, check that no wires are near water. Also be wary of using extension cables, as they could overload the socket. If you do need to use an extension lead, make sure it has a surge protector.

Always use common sense

If the box says the lights are for indoor use only, never attempt to use them outdoors. Also, even though it’s nice to arrive home to a house full of twinkling lights, always turn them off when you go out. This will prevent the risk of them overheating.

It may seem like ‘Bah humbug’ advice, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.