‘Tis the season for decorating and gift-giving. But don’t overlook important holiday safety techniques just because you’re feeling jolly.

To ensure a safe and festive holiday season, CSA International, a global certification and testing organization, advises everyone to check the following lists twice for tips on smart shopping, indoor and outdoor decorating and maintaining a safe home.

Finding the perfect holiday gift at just the right price can be a challenge. And, just when you think you’ve found a bargain, there is a chance you may have actually purchased a potentially dangerous counterfeit. Giving a phoney item could mean unintentionally putting family and friends at risk for a serious or fatal injury.

Counterfeit products can include unsafe items such as electric toys, household appliances, power tools, consumer electronics and other gifts that may present a shock or fire hazard. CSA International warns consumers to be familiar with the signs that separate naughty from nice items:

Avoid electrical products that are missing a label from an accredited certification organization such as CSA International.

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.

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.

Check the “look and feel” of products. Fakes are often light and flimsy.

Buy only from reputable stores with clearly stated return policies.

Have yourself a very merry home:

Indoor safety tips

Lighting and decorations

Inspect holiday light strings each year and discard any with frayed cords, cracked lamp holders or loose connections.

Unplug light strings before replacing bulbs and check to ensure replacement bulbs match the voltage and wattage of the original bulb. Ensure that bulb reflectors are the right size for the light string.

Always turn off holiday lights when you leave the house unattended or when going to bed.

Store lights and decorations in their original packaging, as they likely contain manufacturer’s instructions on replacement bulbs and details for proper product use.

Do not use open flames or candles on or near flammable materials such as wreaths, trees or paper decorations.

Never tack or staple lighting strings or extension cords to any surface.

Avoid hanging decorations on or near objects like fire sprinklers, fire extinguishers, hose cabinets, exit corridors or exit signs which can hinder one’s safety.

Never run electrical cords through doorways, under carpets or rugs.

Gas fireplaces

Do not use your gas fireplace if the glass panel is removed, cracked or broken. Glass panels and frame assemblies should be replaced only by a qualified service person.

When purchasing or installing a gas fireplace, check for the mark of an accredited certification organization such as the Star mark from CSA International. This indicates the fireplace meets applicable national standards.

Carbon-monoxide alarms

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installing and maintaining CO alarms. Install at least one carbon-monoxide alarm near bedrooms. Use more than one CO alarm if sleeping areas are located on different levels of your home.

Change batteries at least twice a year.

When purchasing a CO alarm, check for the mark of an accredited certification organization such as CSA International’s Flame mark and the CSA 6.19-01 reference mark.

Smoke alarms

Install smoke alarms on every level of your home and outside all sleeping areas.

Test your smoke alarms monthly. Only working smoke alarms can give you the precious seconds you may need to escape a fire.

Basement and garage

Don’t store combustible materials such as gasoline, propane, paper, chemicals, paint, rags and cleaning products near your gas furnace. Gasoline or propane cylinders must be stored outside the home.

Never use gasoline or other flammable liquids in the vicinity of your gas furnace or water heater.

Look for the familiar CSA International certification Star mark on your gas-fired furnace or water heater to ensure it has been tested and certified to the applicable standard. Have a qualified heating contractor perform a yearly maintenance check of your furnace and venting system.

When it snows let your home glisten: outdoor lighting tips

Before working with outdoor wiring, turn off the electricity to the supply outlet and unplug the connection.

Ensure that light strings, cords, spotlights and floodlights are certified and marked for outdoor use.

When hanging lights outdoors, keep electrical connectors above ground, out of puddles and snow and away from metal gutters.

Use insulated fasteners such as tape or plastic clips rather than nails or tacks to hold lights in place.

Remove lights promptly after the holidays to avoid damage caused by extended exposure to harsh weather conditions.

Use a certified timer to switch lights on (after 7 p.m. to avoid the electricity rush hour) and off.

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.

For a fun and interactive Web site on holiday safety that the whole family can enjoy, visit www.csaholiday.com. For more general safety tips, visit www.csasafetytips.com. – Courtesy of ARAcontent.

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