This is a reminder to all children photographers regarding Christmas tree lights. It’s become a little fad to use strands of bulbs to wrap kids in for the sake of a Christmas card shot or stylized Christmas session.
Well, DON’T! Especially older big bulb style lights. Use of these lights as a photo prop can be dangerous. Not only is this a major electrical hazard (if you actually plug them in while shooting), but it’s a choking, hanging and tripping hazard as well. Smaller children may also chew and bite on bulbs and wiring, too. Additionally, children should not handle the lights AT ALL! If they do, they need to immediately wash their hands in order to avoid transference of airborne, small particles to their mouth, nose, food or drink.
In addition, Christmas lights sometimes contain arsenic. Not just that, but SERIOUS levels of lead. If you read packaging carefully, lead containing bulbs have warnings and special clean up is required if you break one. Wrap a kid or kids in a strand of bulbs and see if one doesn’t sometimes get broken! They are kids and accidents happen.
The health effects of this can be a variety of issues such as cancer, neurological damage, kidney disease, hypertension, chronic hives, skin rashes and other illnesses.
And, no amount of lead is safe, so one little broken bulb can be quite the silent aggressor in the health of a child, especially younger children who are at rapid brain development stages.
Is any image worth putting the health of a client’s child at risk? Your own child? Even without the toxic chemicals, it’s just something bad waiting to happen when you have kids tied in knots of any kind of material. Use common sense!
Here is a great link to an alternate to toxin containing lights. Environmental Lights (Not so you can still tie children up, it’s still a bad idea)
Home Depot has a great program for returning old lights to them for proper disposal of lead containing items and recycling. You even get a coupon for new lights (The coupon is a time limited deal so check your local stores). Home Depot
I’m not saying to throw out all of your lights at once, but as a parent, be aware, be on the look out and don’t let the children handle the lights. As a photographer, tying your children with lights for a shot? Really? Is this a good idea, anyway?
11/29/2012 Update: Here is an informative article submitted to me by Elizabeth Norcross with the Examiner.com located in Boston. She is a fellow redubbler! High Levels of Lead in Christmas Lights are Dangerous to Children"