Trouble free Christmas tree for a fire safe festive season

Published: 1st December 2010

Fair Trading Minister Virginia Judge and Emergency Services Minister Steve Whan today warned people to ensure Christmas tree lights, decorations and electrical products meet safety standards.

Ms Judge said Fair Trading investigators have removed three types of potentially dangerous lights and five types of Christmas decorations from the marketplace during a compliance blitz.

"Fair Trading investigators have inspected 13,281 electrical items at 212 retail stores and six markets in 39 suburbs and towns across the State," Ms Judge said.

"A total of 59 models of unapproved electrical goods were detected, including lamps, cooking appliances, massagers, power supplies and battery chargers. (Photos available on request).

"Dangerous lights and decorations were all imported from overseas, available for sale at markets and discount stores.

"Twenty-five traders have been issued with first offence warning letters and three traders have been issued with $500 penalty notices for second offences.

"Fair Trading will continue monitoring the marketplace up to Christmas Eve to ensure families are safe this Christmas," Ms Judge said.

Minister for Emergency Services Steve Whan said over-enthusiastic decorating could lead to overloaded electrical circuits.

"We strongly recommend homeowners do not go overboard on the double adapters or place electrical cables where they could get damaged," Mr Whan said.

"Indoor lighting and power cords are not waterproof so they should not be used outdoors as they can cause fires and electrocution.

"Synthetic Christmas trees can be highly flammable so only custom made lights and decorations should be used.

"Christmas lights and other electrical products are only approved once they have been exposed to rigorous testing by accredited agencies," Mr Whan said.

Ms Judge said the easiest way to know if an item is approved is to check for the approval mark.

"Approved electrical goods are normally identified by a mark with a capital letter (corresponding to the authorising state or territory), followed by a certificate number," Ms Judge said.

"Product safety standards are there to protect the community and the majority of traders abide by them, but a savvy shopper should check for approval marks."

If in doubt, go to to check examples of safety approval marks acceptable under the Electricity Consumer Safety Act 2004.

Overseas certificates of approval are not acceptable in Australia.

Mr Whan said it was also important to check lights and electronic decorations for faults, worn plugs, frayed cords and to keep decorations away from flames and barbecues.

"We want NSW families to have a light, bright and safe Christmas this year so use commonsense when it comes to electrical safety," Mr Whan said.

Consumers should use the following electrical safety tips this Christmas:

  • use extra low voltage - particularly for outdoor displays;
  • never use illegal alterations to fixed wiring to connect lights or other equipment;
  • only use ‘outdoor’ approved lights and transformers for outdoor displays;
  • all connect leads or power boards to circuits protected by a safety switch;
  • never overload power boards by connecting an excessive number of lights; and
  • ensure that power boards are not exposed to the weather unless designed to do so.

For more information on electrical safety and the fact sheet Safe Electrical goods – A guide for retailers and importers visit the Fair Trading website at


  • 711 residential fires between 1 December 2009 and 31 January 2010.
  • 87 people injured in house fires during this period.
  • 148 fires were started by candles or cigarettes left unattended