A festive glow can be deceiving, and it can be dangerous.
But a new study suggests that in some circumstances, Christmas lights can actually be dangerous – and that could spell the end of your Christmas experience.
The study, carried out by the University of Sydney, has found that the risk of light-induced injuries is highest when lights are placed outdoors.
And in some cases, that’s even when the lights are not on.
“The lights should have been replaced on Christmas Day,” Dr Stephen Whelan, a research fellow at the University’s School of Engineering, said.
“It would have been a lot safer if they had stayed in the home.”
The study found that in a study involving about 20,000 light fixtures in three different countries, the risk to pedestrians was five times higher than when the light was placed outdoors, and the risk was five to six times higher when the lamps were placed indoors.
“When we put the lights indoors, it’s very similar to when they were outdoors, where you’re putting a little bit more light into the room and there’s less risk of people being blinded by the light,” Dr Whelany said.
The lights are put outdoors because they have a higher risk of exposure to ultraviolet light, which can cause skin cancer and even blindness.
In Australia, the National Health and Medical Research Council says it recommends replacing lights with fluorescent fixtures in homes and businesses with a maximum of 12 lights.
“For many people, lighting up the house is one of the best ways to start the day, but if you’re not sure whether you should replace your lights, our advice is to find out if you can safely put them back in,” Dr Jennifer Smith, a spokesperson for the NHMRC, said in a statement.
“This is an opportunity to find a solution to a problem that we know is serious.”
It is estimated that each year, an estimated 2 million Australians are blinded by light exposure.
While there is no definitive way to determine whether the lights were the cause of the injury, Dr Whenany said it could have been caused by something else, like an air conditioner that had been plugged in too long.
“If they were plugged in for a long period of time, that could have caused some of these injuries,” he said.
Dr Whela said the study had some limitations.
“In our study, we did not look at whether people were actually blinded by lights,” he explained.
“And also, we didn’t look at how long the lights had been on in a house or a business.”
We did have to take into account that people who had experienced light-related injury may have been in other homes or in the same place at the same time, so there is some chance they may have experienced lights in the environment and had a shorter exposure time to them.
“Dr Whenan said the risk posed by light could be mitigated by replacing the lights with a more cost-effective product.”
What we would recommend is for people to invest in a good lighting solution,” he told ABC News.”
There are many, many lights out there that cost hundreds of dollars and you can’t find anything cheap enough.
“I would recommend buying one of these lights and putting it in your home to get the maximum benefit of what you’re getting out of it.”