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(ARA) – The holiday season is a great time to gather with family and friends in your home to celebrate the season. In the rush of decorating the home and shopping for gifts, many people overlook simple safety precautions.

Whether you are stringing lights inside or outside your home, shopping for holiday decor for your office or dorm room, or looking online for the latest gadgets and gifts, it is important to keep safety in mind.

CSA International, a global product safety, testing and certification organization, recommends that you remember these smart decorating and shopping tips to help ensure everyone has a safe holiday season:

Deck your halls: indoor safety tips

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

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

* Never run electrical cords through doorways or under carpets and rugs.

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

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

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

* Consider using certified LED holiday lights around your home, as they are more energy-efficient and longer lasting than traditional lights.

* Ensure your home includes certified working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on each level of your home.

All is bright: 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 or 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 and off.

* Consider using solar lighting for illuminating your walkway or outside space to be more conscious of the environment while improving your outdoor safety.

Shop safe: avoid counterfeit products

* Avoid electrical products such as electric toys, household appliances, power tools and consumer electronics that are missing a label from an accredited certification organization such as CSA International. Counterfeit electrical products have not been tested to the applicable standards and may present an electrical, fire or toxic danger.

* Counterfeit packaging often has inferior designs 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.

For a fun and interactive website on holiday safety that the whole family can enjoy, featuring a holiday safety cartoon, visit www.CSAHoliday.com. For more general safety tips, visit www.CSASafetyTips.com.

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Author: Andy Quayle

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