Dangers of the Holiday Season

Tis the season for decorating and gift giving, yet dangers can hide in the form of counterfeit tools, gifts and unsafe seasonal décor. Avoid seasonal accidents with some tips from the Canadian Standards Association.

“We see more residential fires during the winter holiday season than at any other time of year,” explains Chief Bruce Burrell, president of Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs. “It’s important for the public to inspect their decorative light strings and use those certified by an accredited organization such as CSA International.”

Separate Naughty from Nice Items

The CSA certification guarantees that the products you are buying have been tested and certified to the applicable safety and performance standards.

Be on the lookout for the signs of counterfeit products. You don’t want to be giving electric toys, household appliances, power tools, consumer electronics and other gifts that may present a shock or fire hazard.

Know the Signs of a Counterfeit Product

  • Label look-up: Avoid electrical products that are missing a label from an accredited certification organization such as CSA.
  • Good things come in clearly labelled packages: 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.
  • Happy returns: When a product doesn’t include a brand identifier or trademark, it may be a fake. Look for missing return addresses or company contact information. Buy only from reputable stores with clearly stated return policies.
  • Touch and see: Check the “look and feel” of products. Fakes are often light and flimsy.

Shiny and Bright: Indoor Lighting Safety Tips

  • Don’t be strung along: Carefully inspect holiday light strings each year and discard any with frayed cords, cracked lamp holders or loose connections.
  • Disconnect and duplicate: Unplug light strings before replacing bulbs and check to ensure replacement bulbs match the voltage and wattage of the original.
  • One size doesn’t fit all: Ensure that bulb reflectors are the right size for the light string.
  • Goodnight lights: Always turn off holiday lights when you leave the house unattended or when going to bed.
  • Look for the label: Find the CSA certification mark, which guarantees that the product’s been inspected.
  • Storage wrap-up: After the holidays, store lights and decorations in the original packaging, as they likely contain manufacturer’s instructions on replacement bulbs and details for proper product use.
  • Don’t let it burn: Do not use open flames or candles on or near flammable materials such as wreaths, trees or paper decorations.

No Reindeer Games: Outdoor Safety Tips

  • Power down: Before working with outdoor wiring, turn off the electricity to the supply outlet and unplug the connection.
  • Find the CSA certification mark: Ensure that light strings, cords, spotlights and floodlights are certified by CSA and marked for outdoor use.
  • Apart from the rest: When hanging lights outdoors, keep electrical connectors above ground, out of puddles and snow, and away from metal eaves troughs.
  • Form an attachment: Use insulated fasteners rather than metal nails or tacks to hold light strings in place.
  • Bundle that joy away: Remove outdoor lights promptly after the holiday season to avoid damage caused by extended exposure to harsh weather conditions.
  • Time is of the essence: Use an outdoor timer certified by CSA  to switch lights on and off automatically. Lights should be turned on after 7 p.m. to avoid the electricity rush hour.
  • Pardon the interruption: Whenever possible, connect all outdoor lighting into receptacles protected by weatherproof ground fault circuit interrupters. These can provide protection from electric shock by sensing ground leakage and cutting electrical power.

Read more Holiday Safety Tips from CSA.

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