Electrical decorations and lights can help brighten the holiday season, but misusing or using damaged decorations may lead to dangerous situations-including injury or fire.|
The safety experts at Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) encourage you to refer to this handy checklist when decorating your home this holiday season.
Y - - N Does your live tree or greenery have fresh, green needles? If the greenery isn't fresh, it can lead to a greater fire risk. When you put your tree in the base holder, remember to keep it filled with water at all times.
Y - - N Is your tree a safe distance from fireplaces, radiators, space heaters, heating vents and other sources of heat? This safety tip is important for both fresh and artificial trees.
Y - - N Do you use light strings that bear the UL Mark? The familiar UL Mark on a product means that UL engineers have tested samples of the product for risk of fire, electric shock and other hazards. But you also have to remember to follow the manufacturer's instructions when using light strings and other electrical decorations.
Y - - N Before plugging in newly purchased electrical decorations, or those you've used during previous seasons, do you carefully inspect each decoration? Cracked sockets, frayed, loose or bare wires, and loose connections may cause serious electric shock or start a fire. Replace damaged items with new decorations that bear the UL Mark.
Y - - N Do you unplug light strings and electrical decorations before replacing light bulbs or fuses? Check the instructions to determine which maintenance the manufacturer recommends you perform. Don't attempt to make a repair unless the instructions indicate the proper procedure and equipment for doing so. Decorations may overheat or safety mechanisms may not operate properly if you don't use the replacement parts specified by the manufacturer.
Y - - N Do you keep light strings and other electrical decorations away from children's reach? Electrical decorations aren't toys and could produce a deadly electric shock or cause a fire if misused. Make sure you keep light strings away from curious pets as well.
Y - - N Do you turn off all electrical light strings and decorations before leaving home or going to bed? Never leave light strings and other electrical decorations operating unattended.
Y - - N Have you made sure your home is equipped with smoke detectors and fire extinguishers that bear the UL Mark? Don't forget to install, test and maintain these devices in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.
Y - - N Do you check for red or green UL Marks on your light strings? The green holographic UL Mark means the light strings should only be used indoors. The red holographic UL Mark indicates the light strings can be used both inside and out-and can withstand conditions related to outdoor use. Labels for decorative light strings are in transition during the 1996 holiday season, so you may see holographic UL labels or the older, red or green paper labels on light strings you purchase this year.
If you answered "yes" to all of these questions, congratulations! If you answered "no" to any of these questions, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to correct the electrical hazards in your home. By putting "Operation Decoration" into effect in your home, you'll be on your way toward a happier and safer, holiday season.
Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) is an independent organization that has tested products for public safety for more than a century. These and other product safety tips are available at UL's Web site, http://www.ul.com.(NAPSI)
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