Be bright – and safe – this Christmas

The dangers of Christmas lights that have been carelessly stored since being put away last winter will be highlighted in this year’s free testing of small electrical equipment, hosted by the council’s trading standards department.

Festive illuminations will join the usual range of electric blankets, kettles, irons, table lamps and other small appliances that go under the spotlight when the team holds its annual free testing event for borough residents.

Once a year, twinkling fairy lights and colourful illuminations are retrieved from damp, dusty storage boxes. Tests have shown that poorly stored, old electrical decorations and overloaded sockets can create unnecessary hazards. Older sets of lights may not be designed to contend with damp winter weather, or meet rigorous new safety standards.

Christmas lights operate at either mains voltage (230 volts) or extra-low voltage, (typically 12 to 24 volts). The safest Christmas lights operate at extra-low voltage because they are powered by a safety extra-low voltage transformer that will significantly reduce the risk of electric shock, even in the event of a fault, or if a bulb breaks.

Echoing the success and popularity of previous events, this year’s will cover two days, offering a local testing centre to residents of both the north and the south of the borough.

The sessions will be held on:

  • Thursday, 26 November – AgeUK Croydon, 81 Brigstock Road, Thornton Heath CR7 7JH
  • Friday, 27 November – Selsdon Centre for the Retired (located within the Sainsbury’s complex), 132 Addington Road, Selsdon CR2 8LA

Each session will run from 9.30am to 4pm, with an appointments system to avoid long waiting times for residents.

As in previous years, the trading standards department will be offering a home collection service for residents who are elderly or housebound and might find it difficult to attend one of the sessions.

Last year’s event saw 52% of the presented electric blankets fail safety tests, along with 59% of the electrical appliances that didn’t make the grade.

Anybody who doubts the quality of their Christmas lights is asked to take advantage of the free testing service, and get them, as well as small appliances, tested.

Councillor Mark Watson, cabinet member for communities, safety and justice

Councillor Mark Watson, cabinet member for communities, safety and justice, said: “Last year’s event revealed a high percentage of failures, with many residents who attended praising, and expressing gratitude for, the chance to have their appliances tested free of charge.

“These days, residents are more savvy than they might have been in the past, and it’s good that they know that, despite appearances, their appliance could be unsafe and, in extreme cases, lethal.

“I’d urge anybody who has an appliance that’s a few years old, or that they’re unsure about, to take advantage of this service, book an appointment and get some invaluable peace of mind.

“The fact that more than half of the items tested last year were deemed unsafe underlines how important it is to get electrical items, especially if they’ve given a few years’ service, safety-checked by a competent electrician.”

Anybody interested in having their Christmas lights, an electric blanket or a small appliance tested should contact the trading standards team to book an appointment. Residents unable to leave their home to attend these events can book a collection time.

To book, call Caroline Dawson on 020 8407 1311 extn 61809 or email

Alternatively, call the trading standards team on 020 8407 1311 or email

2015-11-11T15:40:53+00:00 November 11th, 2015|Recent news|