Survey from CSA International shows one in four Canadians takes two months or longer to remove holiday lights

TORONTO, Dec. 13 /CNW/ - CSA International's Holiday Safety survey reveals some potentially dangerous holiday habits when it comes to seasonal décor and safety. According to the research, 25 per cent of Canadians leave their holiday lights up for months at a time, which could lead to residential fires. Even more alarming, 10 per cent of Canadians never check their holiday lights for safety hazards before hanging them and 17 per cent responded that selecting holiday décor items that meet Canadian safety standards is not even a priority when shopping for decorations.

"The holiday season is a time for family, friends and neighbours to enjoy," says Ash Sahi, president and CEO, CSA Group. "Keeping the holidays safe should also be on Canadians' minds this year. CSA International is asking everyone to take a moment to think about safety around their homes and neighbourhoods as they purchase and hang holiday decorations this season."

Since they are designed for temporary use only, CSA International highlights the importance of  removing light strings immediately after the holidays. Lights and extension cords left for extended periods of time can become damaged by harsh weather and extreme temperatures and can present a very real shock or fire hazard.

The survey, conducted by Leger Marketing on behalf of CSA International, polled 1,513 Canadians and 1,046 Americans about their holiday safety habits and found that Americans seem to be safer than Canadians during the holidays. For instance, more Americans than Canadians say that they check to see if holiday items are tested and certified by an accredited organization (44 per cent vs. 40 per cent, respectively). Additionally, more Canadians than Americans say that they rarely or never check to see if an item has been tested and certified (34 per cent vs. 23 per cent).

"As we get closer to the holidays, the number of fires and fire fatalities often increases," says Ontario Fire Marshal Pat Burke. "With the hustle and bustle of the holidays - the cooking, decorating and entertaining - it's easy to get distracted. But fire can be easily prevented in your home by staying in the kitchen while you are cooking, checking your holiday lights before you decorate and making sure candles are out of reach of children. And you should always remember to test all of your smoke alarms."

Statistics show that, on average, fire kills eight people every week in Canada, with residential fires accounting for 73 per cent of these fatalities.1 The province of Ontario alone averages 29 residential fire fatalities each year for the period of November 1 to January 31. According to the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal, for the 2007-2008 holiday season, Ontario had more than 33 fatal residential fires that resulted in 40 deaths.

Knowing this, CSA International sheds light on holiday lighting and décor safety with the following safety tips:

Twinkle and sparkle the safer way

  • Check and check again: Carefully inspect holiday light strings each and every year.
  • Out with the old: Discard any light strings 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 International that provides assurance that the products are tested and certified to the applicable standards for safety and performance. Also, ensure that outdoor light strings, cords, spotlights and floodlights are certified by CSA International and marked for outdoor use.
  • Don't be tacky: Never hang decorations from fire sprinklers, or allow them to obstruct exit corridors or exit signs, fire extinguishers and hose cabinets. Never tack or staple lighting strings or extension cords to a wall or cubicle. When hanging lights outdoors, keep electrical connectors above ground, out of puddles and snow and away from metal eavestroughs. Use insulated fasteners rather than metal nails or tacks to hold light strings in place.
  • Take 'em Down: Remove outdoor lights promptly after the holiday season to avoid damage caused by extended exposure to harsh weather conditions.
  • Safe storage: After the holidays, wrap and store lights and decorations in their original packaging, as they likely contain manufacturer's instructions on replacement bulbs and details for proper product use.
  • Watch the flicker of candles: Do not use open flames or candles on or near flammable materials such as wreaths, trees or paper decorations.
  • Designate those decorations: When decorating the tree, place breakable ornaments on the higher limbs to protect children and pets. Remember to always use flame-resistant decorations.
  • Don't get juiced: Before working with outdoor wiring, turn off the electricity to the supply outlet and unplug the connection.
  • Fresh or fake, be safe: 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 electrical lights should have a certification mark on them and should be made of fire-resistant material.
  • Pardon the interruption: Whenever possible, connect all outdoor lighting into receptacles protected by weatherproof ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI). These can provide protection from electric shock by sensing ground leakage and cutting electrical power.

When holiday shopping, look out for fakes!

  • Spot the mark: Avoid electrical products that are missing a certification mark from an accredited certification organization such as CSA International. When products don't include brand identifiers or trademarks, they may be fakes. Look for missing return addresses or company contact information.
  • Scrutinize the packaging: Counterfeit packaging often has an inferior design or partial illustrations. Look for misspellings and unclear print on products and labels. Also, check for a discrepancy between the contents of the product package and its description.
  • See and feel: Check the heaviness and the "look and feel" of products. Fakes are often light and flimsy.

For holiday family safety tips, and to see a short animated video on potential holiday dangers, visit: www.csaholiday.com. For general safety tips visit: www.csasafetytips.com. To learn more about CSA International certification marks, visit: www.csa-international.org/certification_marks

For Broadcast and Print Journalists: B-roll and holiday photos are available by contacting Amy Clark at aclark@environicspr.com or 416-969-2758, or Nazia Khan at nkhan@environicspr.com or 416-969-2781.

About the survey
The online survey was conducted for CSA International by Leger Marketing between October 25th and October 28th, 2010, with a representative sample of 1513 respondents from Canada and 1046 from United States about their behaviour when it comes to holiday lighting and decor.  This method simulates a probability sample which would yield a maximum margin of error of +/-2.5%, 19 times out of 20 for the Canadian results and +/-3.0%, 19 times out of 20 for the American results.

About CSA International
CSA International is a provider of product testing and certification services for electrical, mechanical, plumbing, gas and a variety of other products. Recognized in the U.S., Canada and around the world, CSA International certification marks appear on billions of products worldwide. CSA International is a division of CSA Group, which also includes CSA, a leading solutions based standards organization, providing standards development, application products, training and advisory services; and OnSpeX, a provider of consumer product evaluation, inspection and advisory services for retailers and manufacturers. For more information, visit www.csa-international.org

1 Fire Prevention Canada: http://www.fiprecan.ca/

 /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: Photos accompanying this release are also available at http://photos.newswire.ca. Images are free to accredited members of the media/


For further information: For further information:

Anthony Toderian             Amy Clark/Nazia Khan
Manager, Media Relations, CSA Group           Environics (for CSA International)
T: (416) 747-2620             T: (416) 969-2758 / (416) 969-2781
E: anthony.toderian@csagroup.org           E: aclark@environicspr.com                   

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