Safety Defects in Electric Christmas Lights on Sale Across Europe
In 2009, the EU Consumer Report already revealed that one in three Christmas light strings is defective. In addition, China's low-tech lighting products, currently flooding the European market, may also harbor safety-related faults. Safety tests by SGS E&E can prevent the proliferation of defective lighting.
Christmas Season: Christmas lights illuminate trees, gardens, windows and even building facades and streets. Light strings in the form of reindeers, Santa Claus and angels vie for our attention. But as dubious lighting products constantly appear on the market, many testing institutions as well as the European Commission advise increased caution.
Already in December 2009, the European Committee warned that almost a third of Christmas lights on sale across Europe are in effect a fire hazard. According to the EU Consumer Report, a significant proportion of Christmas light chains present serious safety defects and some even contain the danger of electric shock. The most frequently occurring safety defects are incorrect or missing safety instructions and too high heat production.
Light strings produced in Asia often do not meet international safety regulations and may contain dangerous safety-related defects. “Due to thorough price competition, lighting manufacturers may use material of very low quality which can jeopardise the safety of the user, “ says the Finnish SGS Certification Director, Tom Törn. Before purchasing Christmas lights, consumers should check for the appropriate safety label indicating that the product has been tested and is safe for use.
Several certification schemes such as the CE Mark, GS Mark, CEBEC Mark or SGS TÜV GS Mark are utilized to certify the safety of electrical products sold throughout Europe. Although all products sold within or imported into the EU must bear the CE Mark, it is only the manufacturer’s self declaration for safety. The GS Mark (Geprüfte Sicherheit = tested safety), however, reassures consumers that the product has undergone independent testing for safety by an authorized third party, such as SGS. The mark is recognized throughout Germany as well as other EU countries. In order to acquire the GS Mark, SGS Electrical & Electronics conducts an initial type approval test as well as recurring inspections of the manufacturing sites. Only if SGS is convinced of a product’s reliability will the manufacturer then receive Safety Certification, as proof of the achieved level of quality.
For consumers, vigilance is essential, as well as following basic safety advice. Consumers should buy Christmas lights from reputable dealers where basic safety standards are assured and the products are certified for the intended use (indoor or outdoor). Furthermore, it is important to follow safety instructions, such as to never leave Christmas lights on when you are out of the house or in bed. If users suspect a problem with their lights, they should cease use and return the faulty item to the retailer. Finally, in order to be on the safe side, consumers should search e.g. for the GS Mark, or the Fimko Mark or CEBEC Mark on the packaging of any Christmas light products they buy.
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