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article imageBe safe during the holidays, check lights

By KJ Mullins     Nov 30, 2010 in World
Do you leave your Christmas lights up at the end of the season to make things easier for the next year? According to a recent survey, CSA International's Holiday Safety, a quarter of Canadians do so putting them at an increased risk for a house fire.
"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."
The survey conducted by Leger Marketing polled 1,513 Canadians and 1,046 Americans about their safety habits during the holidays. Americans appear to be safer than Canadians during the season by checking to see if their holiday items are tested and certified by an accredited organization (44 per cent vs. 40 per cent, respectively).
Every week fire kills an average of eight Canadians with house fires accounted for almost three quarters of those deaths. In Ontario alone there are an average of 29 residential fire fatalities each year during the holiday season.
"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."
CSA International offers some safety tips to make it through this season safely.
Check your holiday light strings every year and toss out any strings 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. Make certain that bulb reflectors are the correct size for the light string.
When buying new lights and electrical decorations look for a certification mark.
Do not hang decorations from fire sprinklers or allow for exits to be obstructed by decorations. When hanging decorations and lights outside make sure electrical connectors are above ground, out of puddles and snow and away from metal eaves troughs.
As pretty as your outside lights are take them down after the season is over to avoid damage caused by extended exposure to harsh winter conditions.
Store this year's lights in their original packaging.
Do not put candles near wreaths, trees or paper decorations.
Put breakable ornaments on the highest limbs of your Christmas tree to avoid injuries to pets and young children.
Before working with outdoor wiring, turn off the electricity to the supply outlet and unplug the connection.
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
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