The right light: Inspect light strings each year. Discard any with frayed cords, cracked lamp holders or loose connections. Look for the mark from an accredited certification organization on light strings, extension cords and animated displays. Make sure they are marked for outdoor use and follow the manufacturer's instructions. | SUPPLIED PHOTO
Safety tips for the extreme holiday decorator
Taking holiday decorating to extremes is fun, but accidents can happen, especially when using many electronic decorations on the outside of the house.
Follow these safety precautions for outdoor decorating to help make sure your house is noticed for the right reasons:
* Put your faith in the magic of the holidays but don’t fall for fakes: Whether it’s a waving snowman, rocking sleigh or light-up Rudolph, avoid counterfeit electronic decorations that haven’t been certified for safe use. Look for the mark from an accredited certification organization on light strings, extension cords and animated displays. Make sure they are marked for outdoor use and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
* Keep old holiday traditions, not old holiday lights: Carefully inspect light strings each year. Discard any with frayed cords, cracked lamp holders or loose connections.
* Sparkle without the spark: Turn off the electricity to the supply outlet before working with outdoor wiring. Unplug light strings before replacing bulbs and check to ensure replacement bulbs match the voltage and wattage of the original. To avoid a shock from damaged wire, use insulated fasteners rather than metal nails or tacks to hold light strings in place.
* Stay dry: Keep electrical connectors for outdoor lights above ground, out of water, and away from metal gutters. Connect 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.
* Don’t be silly with strings: Make decorating a family activity by planning this year’s theme with the kids, but don’t let children or pets play with light strings.
* Don’t overextend yourself: Use heavy-duty extension cords for high wattage decorations and large electronically animated displays and don’t overload extension cords.
* It’s more than a faux-pas to keep lights up all year: Outdoor holiday lights are made for seasonal use only; extended exposure can lead to damage. After the holiday season, take down decorations and store them in their original packaging to keep the proper use instructions for next year.
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Updated: November 19, 2012 2:36PM
As temperatures drop and the annual hibernation routine begins, we start using heating appliances such as the furnace, fireplace and space heaters for the first time in months. To avoid potential hazards, check every autumn that these are in still in good condition and follow precautions for proper use. CSA Group, a leader in public safety and testing and certification, offers the following safety tips for keeping warm on cold days:
* Have a qualified heating contractor perform a yearly maintenance check of your furnace and venting system.
* Clean or replace your furnace filter frequently during the heating season.
* Keep the immediate area free of obstructions to ensure free airflow.
* Look for a certification mark such as the CSA star mark on your gas-fired furnace to ensure it has been tested and certified to the applicable standard.
* Never use gasoline or other flammable liquids near your gas furnace.
* Don’t store combustible materials such as paper, chemicals, paint, rags and cleaning products close to your gas furnace.
* Check that the glass panel is intact. Do not use your gas fireplace if the glass panel is removed, cracked or broken. Glass panels and frame assemblies should only be replaced by a qualified service person.
* Check for the mark of an accredited certification organization, such as the star mark from CSA Group when purchasing a gas fireplace.
* Check for wear on the electrical cord. If it’s damaged, replace the entire unit or have the cord replaced by a qualified repairperson.
* Keep it clean by dusting or vacuuming it regularly. Always turn the unit off first.
* Keep the heater clear of furniture, rugs and drapes to allow free air movement and avoid overheating.
* Look for certified third-party verification marks like CSA Group’s certification mark. This shows that the heater complies with recognized safety standards.
* Turn the heater down or off before going to sleep and keep it out of pathways and well away from bedding and clothes. Turn it off when leaving the house.
* Install a smoke alarm in the room with the space heater.
* Have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms installed throughout the home.
You can find more safety tips at www.csaholiday.com.
Courtesy of Metro Creative