Christmas lights banned on street, bad for Brits’ health

Some traders in Clevedon, UK, cannot put up Christmas lights because of new health and safety guidelines, the BBC reports.

North Somerset Council said it was unsafe to attach lights to columns in Hill Road because they are not load bearing.

Bob Hughes, from the local Traders Association, said traders had raised £3,500 towards the lights and that the council had “gone over the top”. “These rules and regulations are pretty draconian and probably unnecessary.”

But a spokesman for the council said: “There is a code of practice which has to be followed regarding installation of Christmas lights for health and safety reasons. “The lighting columns in this particular location at Hill Road, Clevedon are made of concrete and for safety reasons it is not possible to attach lights to them, as they are not load bearing.

“We do permit Christmas lights in other locations and work with organisations across the district to support festive activities.”

Sofia turns out Christmas lights

Posted On December 28, 2006

Filed under News Europe, Offbeat News

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Sofia turns out Christmas lights in solidarity with death row nurses.

Sofia turned off its Christmas lights on Sunday in a show of solidarity for five Bulgarian nurses sentenced to death in Libya along with a Palestinian doctor.

Floodlights on the parliament and presidency buildings were cut for five minutes, plunging the Bulgarian capital’s landmarks into blackness, and Christmas lights were switched off in the city. The gesture initiated by Sofia’s Mayor Boiko Borissov was mirrored in several cities across the country.

Light them up

The biggest private collection of Christmas lights and decorations on the island was lit up last night, producing a dazzling display of colour.

Two homes in the village of Kiti, in the Larnaca district, Cyprus, have been decked out with 36,000 different decorations, including 10,000 lights.

Among the highlights of the collection is an aeroplane coming in to land on an illuminated landing strip over a swimming pool, and a huge mechanical snowman blowing out snow. There is also a 12-foot Father Christmas as well as a huge illuminated crib.

Britons Peter Holman and Valerie Loughrey are the two people who have decorated their homes on Mykonos Street, with Holman yesterday saying he had shipped the collection, valued at £5,000, to Cyprus three years ago when he moved to the island from Milton Keynes.

“At the front of my property, there is a box where people can leave donations,” he said. “The money raised will be used to help the local elementary school and the community in general.”

The 65-year-old explained that he has been decorating his home ever since he moved here, carrying on the tradition he began back in the UK six years ago.

“Word has spread and for the last couple of years, coaches carrying people from Larnaca Airport have been making detours to see the houses,” he said.

The lights, which took ten days to put up, will be coming down on January 6. Until then, they will be switched on daily between 5 and 11pm. They run on 40 12-volt transformers.

When asked about the electricity bill, Holman chuckled. “It’s actually not too bad,” he responded. “Last year cost me £78, but I expect to pay a little more this time.”

How to take pictures of the Holiday Lights

It’s the season of lights, from Christmas Trees to Hanukkah candles to decorative house lighting. Lights, lights, lights are everywere to cheer up the long dark nights of winter.

According to the New York Institute of Photography (NYI) the world’s largest photography school, your pictures can capture the magic of this lighting if you apply just one simple professional “trick.”

For example, how can your pictures capture the colorful glow of the lights on a Christmas tree? The “trick”, according to NYI, is to turn off your camera’s flash! That’s the key: Turn off that handy built-in flash otherwise the bright light will overwhelm the subtle tree lights in your picture.

Similarly, NYI recommends that you turn off your flash whenever you want to capture any subtle light source, from Christmas trees to Menorah candles to decorative house lighting to those wonderful tree outlines produced by tiny white bulbs.

Of course, certain things follow from this: When you turn off your flash, you won’t have enough light for split-second exposure. Your automatic camera will compensate by opening the shutter for a longer time, maybe a second or longer. Let your camera’s built-in meter decide automatically.

However a very long exposure will become blurry if either the camera moves or the tree lights move, or both. To minimize this risk, NYI recommends two further steps:

  • First, use fast film, for example, ISO 800. This will cut down the duration of the exposure.
  • Second, steady your camera. Handholding just won’t do. Use a tripod if possible. If not, place the camera on a solid surface, such as a tabletop, or brace it against a wall.

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Christmas Tree Safety Tips

  • Always choose a freshly cut tree.  To test a tree, strike the stump down on a firm surface. If needles fall off, the tree is too dry.
  • Consider buying a live tree instead. You can plant it later to enjoy it for years to come. 
  • When you are ready to set the tree up cut off 1/2 to 1 inch from the bottom of the tree before placing in the stand which should be filled with hot water (not boiling, but around 130-160Ί F) as soon as the tree is set up.
  • The tree could absorb as much as a gallon of water the first day.
  • Use wire or nylon cord to secure the tree to the wall or ceiling to prevent it from being knocked over by children or pets.
  • Place the tree away from heat sources.
  • Always keep the tree well watered.  Check and refill often.
  • Use only noncombustible decorations.
  • Check and replace any worn or damaged light sets. It is a good practice to replace any set that is more that four or five years old.
  • Use only U.L. or F.M. approved light strings.  Spot or floodlights should only be used on an artificial tree. 
  • Avoid overloading electrical circuits or creating “octopus” connections.
  • Do not use cellophane. There is no way to make it flameproof.
  • Treat trees with a Fire Marshal approved flame retardant. 
  • Do not use cotton batting, including Santa’s whiskers, or paper decorations unless they have been treated with a flame-retardant treatment.
  • Disconnect the lights at bedtime or when unattended.
  • Use miniature lights that produce less heat.
  • Make sure there in an operational smoke detector installed nearby.
  • Remove discarded wrappings and packages from the house immediately and never burn them in the woodstove or fireplace, it could cause a chimney fire.
  • Do not burn tree branches in the fireplace, it could throw off a large amount of heat and cause a fire.  Christmas trees also cause an oily soot which may damage the fireplace.

Holmfirth’s white Christmas > UK

Holmfirth will be switching on to a white Christmas this Saturday.

Snow from now until until New Year has been virtually guaranteed in a spectacular £30,000 revamp of the town’s festive illuminations.

Rock legend Bill Wyman, one of the original Rolling Stones now playing with his own band The Rhythm Kings, will officially switch on the new look Christmas lights at 4.30pm on Saturday.

And throughout the day around the town centre there will be special festive attractions including a Christmas market, carol singers, hog roast, cookery demonstration by Huddersfield Technical College chefs, ‘Christmas meat’ demonstration by valley butcher Brindon Addy and all the fun of the fair.

As the illuminations flicker into life, all eyes will be on the skies with organisers promising a breathtaking finale to the afternoon’s festivities. Victoria Street will be magically transformed with a luminous ceiling of around 5,500 white lights creating the effect of a snowy night sky. And the entire town centre will be aglow with several new features which have been professionally designed and installed to comply with current health and safety legislation.

(Read More)

Faulty Christmas lights recalled > New Zealand

Faulty sets of Christmas lights have been pulled from retailers’ shelves as they pose a “significant risk” of causing an electric shock or fire.

The lights were sold nationally from September at branches of the $2 Shop, $1,2,3, Price Busters, Mitre 10, Pak’n Save Hastings and the Westport Fresh Choice supermarket.

Auckland distributor Manufacturers-Marketing Ltd says the lighting sets’ accessible wiring was inadequately insulated and could easily detach from the control box.

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