Over 80% of Christmas lights in China a shock hazard, over a third flout fire-safety rules

A couple takes a picture in front of a light installation for Christmas celebrations in Beijing on Dec 23, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 
A couple takes a picture in front of a light installation for Christmas celebrations in Beijing on Dec 23, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China's Christmas lights may bring more risk than festive cheer, the country's quality control watchdog said on Wednesday.

A test of 40 batches of Christmas lights found more than 80 per cent were a shock hazard and more than a third did not comply with fire-safety rules, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said in a statement.

Christmas is not a traditional festival in China, but is growing in popularity, especially in more metropolitan areas where young people go out to celebrate, give gifts and decorate their homes. China is also a big exporter of Christmas lights and decorations, selling them all around the world.

"With Christmas upon us, there are lots of lights coming onto the market. The lights are often twisted around branches, and surrounded by Christmas ornaments, electric cables and other flammable materials," the regulator said.

The watchdog said Chinese consumers should carefully check that products were heat and fire resistant and labelled properly by the manufacturer before making a purchase - or could otherwise face a less than merry Christmas.

"Kids and others can easily reach the lights and if there's a spark of electricity then fires can break out, causing harm to the safety of both people and property," it added.