Home News Three out of 10 Christmas lights unsafe, says EU

Three out of 10 Christmas lights unsafe, says EU

Published on 03/12/2009

Brussels -- Almost a third of Christmas lights on sale across Europe are a fire hazard, the European Commission warned on Wednesday.

Thirty percent of 196 random samples in five European Union states failed to meet safety standards, according to a report presented by EU consumer affairs commissioner Meglena Kuneva.

Christmas lights "present an obvious and direct risk of fire and electric shocks," going by those checked in Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Slovenia, where "many lighting chains failed multiple tests."

"If we are going to ‘keep the lights on’ at Christmas, consumers need to be confident that there are no compromises on safety," said Kuneva, who described the report as a "wake-up call."

"National authorities and industry will redouble efforts to crack down on the gaps and loopholes that can let shoddy goods into shops and our homes," she added.

A quarter of lighting chains failed safety tests because wires could come loose too easily, leading to a high risk of electric shock. Poor insulation in 28 percent of lights sets did likewise.

Another 23 percent had wiring that was too thin, raising the risk of overheating and fire.

Tania Vandenberghe of consumer group ANEC said a lot of unsafe Christmas lights came from Asia and that European supervision needs to be improved.