Christmas safety tips
Christmas is just around the corner. With party preparations, shopping and decorating to occupy their minds, many people overlook simple safety precautions. But frayed wires on Christmas lights and deeply discounted electronic products require extra care and attention. CSA International, a product testing and certification organization, has issued seasonal safety tips to keep top of mind this Christmas.
The risks of Christmas
Miniature lights, decorations and even gifts meant to be fun and joyful can also be dangerous and unsafe when not used properly or when not up to applicable manufacturing standards, CSA International says.
Statistics show people need to understand seasonal dangers and take appropriate precautions. In fact, each week, fire kills eight Canadians, and residential fires account for 73 percent of these fatalities. These residential numbers spike around the holidays. Why? Unsafe decorations, Christmas tree and house lights and even counterfeit products can put people at risk.
As they try to stretch their budgets, people sometimes are attracted to lower discount-store prices, so unsafe, untested and uncertified counterfeit products can end up under the tree and cause fires.
Christmas safety tips
Here are CSA International's top tips to have a safe holiday season.
Avoid counterfeits by looking for brand trademarks
- Avoid electrical products that are missing a certification mark from an accredited certification organization, such as CSA International, whose marks appear on billions of consumer products worldwide.
- When products don't include brand identifiers or trademarks, return addresses, or company contact information, they may be fakes.
- A counterfeit product often has packaging with an inferior design or partial illustrations. Look for misspellings and unclear print on products and labels. Check the heaviness and the "look and feel" of products. Fakes are often light and flimsy.
- If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Be wary of extra-low bargains on electronics.
Keep the festive season safe and sparkling
- Inspect holiday light strings each year and discard any with frayed cords, cracked lamp holders or loose connections.
- Never tack or staple lighting strings or extension cords to any surface. Use insulated fasteners such as tape or plastic clips rather than nails or tacks to hold lights in place.
- Never run electrical cords through doorways or under carpets and rugs.
- Always turn off holiday lights when you leave the home or office unattended, or when going to bed.
- Do not use open flames or candles near flammable materials such as wreaths, trees or paper decorations.
- Avoid hanging decorations near fire sprinklers, fire extinguishers, exit corridors or exit signs which can hinder their visibility.
- Before working with outdoor wiring, turn off the electricity to the supply outlet and unplug the connection.
- Ensure that light strings, cords, spotlights and floodlights are certified and marked for outdoor use.
- When hanging lights outdoors, keep electrical connectors above ground, out of puddles or snow, and away from metal gutters.
- Remove lights promptly after the holidays to avoid damage caused by extended exposure to harsh weather conditions.
- Use a certified timer to switch lights on and off.
You know the drill: Don't play with fire
- Do not use your gas fireplace if the glass panel is removed, cracked or broken. Glass panels and frame assemblies should be replaced only by a qualified service professional. When purchasing or installing a gas fireplace, check for the mark of an accredited certification organization, such as the Flame mark from CSA International.
- Install at least one carbon-monoxide (CO) alarm near bedrooms. Use more than one CO alarm if sleeping areas are located on different levels of your home and follow the manufacturer's instructions for installing and maintaining your alarms. When buying a CO alarm, check for the mark of an accredited certification organization such as the certification Flame and CSA 6.19-01 reference mark from CSA International.
- Test your smoke alarms monthly. One smoke alarm is not enough; install them on every level of your home and outside all sleeping areas. Only working smoke alarms can give you the precious seconds you may need to escape a fire.
- Do not store combustible materials such as holiday wrapping paper, decorations, gasoline, propane, chemicals, paint, rags and cleaning products near your gas furnace.
- Gasoline or propane cylinders must be stored outside of the home. Never use gasoline or other flammable liquids anywhere near your gas furnace or water heater. Look for the familiar CSA International certification Flame mark on your gas-fired furnace or water heater to ensure it has been tested and certified to the applicable standard. Have a qualified heating contractor perform a yearly maintenance check of your furnace and venting system.
More ways to enjoy your Christmas holiday
To learn more about CSA International certification marks, visit: www.csa-international.org/certification_marks.