One set of Christmas lights in three is faulty and could kill the people using them, the European Union's executive warned.
The announcement comes as European shoppers are gearing up for the Christmas season, with shops across the continent rolling out their selections of festive wares in a bid to beat the recession.
According to a European Commission survey, "one third of Christmas lights are likely to electrocute you or set fire to your home," the EU's consumer affairs commissioner, Meglena Kuneva, warned.
The survey targeted chains of Christmas-tree lights in five EU states -Hungary, Germany, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Slovenia - between November 2007 and May this year.
Electric shock or fire hazard
Its results showed that over 30% of the lighting sets on the EU market carried "serious non-compliance problems leading to increased risks of electric shock, fire hazard or both."
In the most dangerous cases, lighting systems were sold with insufficient wiring or insulation, creating a direct danger of electric shock or sparking and fire.
As a result, the commission "is calling on all member states and businesses to step up safety checks on Christmas lights in the coming weeks," Kuneva said.
In total, 40% of the dangerous products came from China, the EU's largest source of manufactured imports, Kuneva said.
"What we could do is check who imported the Christmas lights and buy from reputable businesses," she said. - (Sapa, December 2009)