As 90% of Brits admit to decorating their home and garden in the next few weeks, less than a quarter (23%) would consider the impact this might have on the electrics in their home.

The new study, commissioned by the UK's leading regulatory body for electricians NICEIC and ELECSA surveyed 2,000 UK tenants and homeowners, and has revealed some disturbing facts about the safety of UK homes at Christmas.

The study revealed that 42% of Brits paid more attention to aesthetics than safety, with 1 in 5 admitting to feeling they needed to compete with their friends and neighbours. Inevitably, the increase in decorative lights requires the use of multiple sockets and extension leads, yet less than 3% were concerned about the amount of lights they were using and whether they could be of danger to their family.

Tony Cable, Senior Electrical Engineer for NICEIC and ELECSA explains "Electrical safety in the home is important at any time of the year, but at Christmas we tend to forget that all the decorative lights we use around the home massively increase the dangers to our family. Just grabbing old lights from the loft and plugging them in isn't acceptable. Everyone needs to be aware of the dangers and take into account the risks when getting competitive with their neighbours."

Further causes for concern include the repeat use of lights year on year that are not properly checked (57%), lights used for 5 years or more (30%) and Brits not understanding the British Safety Kitemark (47%).

Vicente McNeill, an electrician from London explains "The most common problem that occurs at Christmas is over-loading due to people plugging in too many lights from their garden. In my opinion, homeowners are not aware of the strain they are putting on their home systems."

Brits are advised to think safety first when decorating their home this Christmas. To assist NICEIC and ELECSA have identified the top five tips to ensure your home is electrically safe this Christmas:

1. Do not overload sockets - Try to avoid extensive use of extension sockets and adapters. Do not plug multiple extensions into each other.

2. Do not re-wire your lights - Many homeowners will be tempted, or have already rewired lights to include 2, 3 or sometimes 4 sets of lights into a single plug. This is dangerous and causes a potential fire risk.

3. Make sure lights you use outside are certified safe for external use - Only use outdoor lights that have been specifically designed to be used outdoors. If you are unsure check the manufacturers' instructions.

4. Do not leave lights on for long periods - Many homes will be tempted to keep lights on for 24 hours, overnight or even more concerning, leave them on when they go out. All Christmas lights increase the risk of fire and overloading and should only be switched on whilst you are at home.

5. Always use Christmas lights that have been certified for use - This can be identified by the European Standards Symbol (represented by CE) and the British Standards Kitemark. If in doubt, don't use them. Always buy lights from reputable stores.

Faulty electrics in the home account for 20,000 house fires each year, causing upwards of 70 fatalities. Most electrical issues in the home are easily preventable by ensuring your home is regularly checked electrically by a suitable, registered electrician.

If anyone is concerned about the safety of their home electrics, or would like to obtain professional advice about their Christmas lights, they can visit or to find the latest advice and tips and to find a registered electrician.

To learn more on protecting your home this Christmas, you can view the following:

Home and Garden on Female First

Home and Garden on Female First

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