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Untangling the Hazards of Holiday Decorating

Holiday LightsAs per the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), historically there has been a steady annual increase of consumers who are experiencing various types of personal injuries while preparing for the holiday season. The CPSC, born of the 1972 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Act is an independent, federal government watchdog in charge of consumer protection when it comes to product safety and manufacturer recalls. Although the CPSC is safeguarding consumers all year, winter have become a prime season for examining holiday-related consumer products contributing to personal injury or at times, even death. One area assigned to the CPSC is the protection of consumers against products that pose fire or electrical hazards with untested holiday lights producing a high risk of product liability.

The CPSC urges all consumers to purchase and use holiday lights tested by such accredited organizations such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Interek (ETL) or CSA, the Canadian Standards Association, which has gained credibility and acceptance not only in North America but across the globe. The CPSC and these consumer protection testing agencies recommend the following safety tips when it comes to illuminating your home during the holiday season.

Examination of Light Sets

For both new and older holiday lights, examine for damaged light sockets, frayed or bare wiring as well as loose connections. The cost of holiday lights has decreased significantly and it is in the best interest of consumer safety to discard damaged sets or return defective purchases to the retailer.

Examination of Extension Cords

As decorating for the holidays generally requires the added use of electrical extension cords, these should also be examined for damage. If fraying or cuts are evident, discard the cord. It is also recommended to use environment specific cords. For example, it is not advisable to use indoor extension cords for outside lighting nor is it recommended to use outdoor extension cords for inside lighting.

Examination of Product Safety Testing and Use Labels

When purchasing new light sets, it is advisable to read the product labels. Underwriters Laboratories, Interek and Canadian Standards Association hold manufacturers to high standards for all indoor and outdoor lighting usage instructions. Underwriters Laboratories alone requires 1,000 varying testing standards and practices. Reading the label recommendations of such agencies as UL is important. Underwriters Laboratories will specifically attach a red holographic label to those consumer products approved for both indoor and outdoor usage but will attach only a green holographic to identify those approved for outdoor use only.

Although the CPSC and independent consumer protection testing agencies are diligent in protecting consumers from hazardous products which could result in personal injury, the CPSC still projects that consumer product death and injuries will continue to cost the nation more than one trillion dollars annually.

If during this holiday decorating season you have uncovered a dangerous or defective product, the CPSC offers a consumer hotline, 800-638-2772 but if you have done your own due diligence and experienced a product-related personal injury, contact the experienced Monterey County product liability attorneys of Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard at (408) 298-7200.

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