Sunday, December 19, 2010

HOME SAFETY: Are Your Holiday Decorations a Safety Hazard?

Many Americans engage in alarming habits when it comes to holiday safety and decor, according to a new survey from CSA International. Putting their homes at risk of fire, 22% of Americans leave their holiday lights up for at least two months and 23% rarely or never check to see if holiday decorations have been tested and certified for safety.

A 2009 report by the National Fire Protection Association that found 23% of Christmas tree fires and 170 home fires per year involved decorative lights.

To keep your home safe this holiday, follow these tips from CSA:

Out with the old
Carefully inspect holiday light strings for inside and outside use each year and discard any with frayed cords, cracked lamp holders, or loose connections.

Size ‘em up
Unplug light strings before replacing bulbs and check to ensure replacement bulbs match the voltage and wattage of the original. Make certain that bulb reflectors are the correct size for the light string.

Spot the mark
When purchasing light strings, extension cords, and electrical decorations, look for a certification mark, such as one from CSA or Underwriters Laboratories. Your outdoor light strings, cords, spotlights, and floodlights should be certified for outdoor use.

Smart holiday light shopping
Scrutinize the packaging of holiday lights. Counterfeit packaging often has an inferior design or partial illustrations. Look for misspellings and unclear print on products and labels. Check for a discrepancy between the contents of the product package and its description. When products don’t include brand identifiers or trademarks, they may be fakes. Look for missing return addresses or company contact information. Check the heaviness and the “look and feel” of products. Fakes are often light and flimsy.

Reducing fire and tree risks
Watch the flicker of candles and keep open flames or candles away from wreaths, trees, and paper decorations.

If you buy a real tree, make sure it’s fresh. Fresh trees will be less likely to dry out and become a fire hazard. Artificial trees with holiday lights should have a certification mark on them and should be made of fire-resistant material.

House Logic November 30, 2010

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