Holiday Decorations May Pose Safety Hazards for Families

December 3, 2008

NORTHBROOK, Ill., Dec. 3 /PRNewswire/ — Festive lights, ornamented trees,
candles and other in-home decorations are not the only indicators that the
holidays are upon us. Statistics from the Consumer Product Safety Commission
(CPSC) show that nearly 13,000 people visit the emergency room each year with
holiday decorating-related injuries, meaning many families find that bruises,
burns and damaged homes are also unfortunate, but preventable, indicators.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), December and
January are the peak months for the overall number of home fires, deaths and
injuries. Families looking to spread holiday cheer should also be aware that
each year an average of 240 home fires start with Christmas trees and an
additional 1,300 begin with various other seasonal decorations.

With more home fires occurring during the holiday season than any other
time of year, Underwriters Laboratories (UL), one of the world’s leading
product safety organizations, and the NFPA, an authority on fire and life
safety, have teamed up to help families prevent unnecessary fire and safety
hazards with “TLC” — Tree, Light and Candle — safety.

“By following the simple guidelines of ‘TLC’ safety, your family’s holiday
season will remain memorable for the right reasons,” said John Drengenberg,
manager of Consumer Affairs for Underwriters Laboratories.

“T” is for Tree

When outfitting a home with a Christmas tree, families must be mindful of
unintended dangers. “While Christmas tree fires are rare, they can be deadly,”
said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of communications. “NFPA reports
show that on average, a person died in one of every 15 reported Christmas tree
fires. As with most fires, following a few simple safety guidelines can
prevent these fires from happening in the first place.”

    -- When you bring your Christmas tree home, cut one or two inches off the
       bottom and place the tree in water as soon as possible.
    -- Remember to keep your tree base filled with water at all times. Left
       un-watered over time, a tree's needles can dry out and catch fire more
    -- Keep your tree a safe distance (at least three feet) from fireplaces,
       radiators, space heaters, heating vents and other sources of heat.
    -- Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.

“L” is for Lights

Families are encouraged to routinely examine decorations whether new or
old. Holiday lights, extension cords and other electrical items may pose
potential safety hazards, especially if they are counterfeit or do not
legitimately bear a recognized safety certification mark, such as the UL Mark
(the letters “UL” inside a circle). An accredited safety certification mark is
a great way to make sure your decorative item has been tested to UL
requirements that help avoid foreseeable safety risks.

    -- Carefully inspect each electrical decoration before plugging it in.
       Cracked sockets, and frayed, bare or loose wires, can cause a serious
       electric shock or start a fire. Replace damaged items with new,
       UL-LISTED decorations.
    -- Be sure to use light strings that bear the UL Mark -- the UL Mark on a
       product means that UL has tested samples of the product for risk of
       fire, electric shock and other hazards.
    -- Do not connect more than three midget light string sets together. Light
       strings with screw-in bulbs should have a maximum of 50 bulbs connected
    -- Turn off all electrical light strings and decorations in your home
       before leaving home or going to bed.

“C” is for Candle

Candles in particular are responsible for 71 percent of December home
fires that begin as a result of improper decorating practices. “While candles
present the most significant fire hazard during the holiday months, all
decorations should be inspected for safety,” said Drengenberg. “By keeping
safety top of mind, you and your loved ones can enjoy a safer holiday season.”

    -- Never leave a room where candles are lit. Always blow them out!
    -- Never place decorations near an open flame.
    -- Keep candles away from decorations, curtains, bedding, paper, furniture
       and other combustible materials.
    -- Keep candles out of the reach and path of children and pets to avoid
       the risk of having them accidentally tipped over.

To learn more about how to have a safe and worry-free holiday, please
visit, http://www.ul.com/newsroom.

About Underwriters Laboratories

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is an independent product safety
certification organization that has been testing products and writing
Standards for Safety for over a century. UL evaluates more than 19,000 types
of products, components, materials and systems annually with 21 billion UL
Marks appearing on 72,000 manufacturers’ products each year. UL’s worldwide
family of companies and network of service providers includes 62 laboratory,
testing and certification facilities serving customers in 99 countries. For
more information, visit: http://www.UL.com/newsroom.

About NFPA

The National Fire Protection Association has been a worldwide leader in
providing fire, electrical, and life safety to the public since 1896. The
mission of the international nonprofit organization is to reduce the worldwide
burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by developing and
advocating scientifically based consensus codes and standards, research,
training and education. NFPA headquarters is in Quincy, MA, USA.

     Media Contacts
     Tina Janczura
     GolinHarris for UL
     Phone: +1.312.729.4349
     Email: tjanczura@golinharris.com

     Lorraine Carli
     National Fire Protection Association
     Phone: +1.617.984.7275
     Email: lcarli@nfpa.org

SOURCE Underwriters Laboratories

Source: newswire

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