Safety is Important when decorating for the holidays.
The Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards wishes to remind importers and consumers of the increased risk of electrocution and fire hazards at this time of year if the quality and use of Christmas lights and other similar products is not given careful consideration by all.
The holiday season is that special time of year when homes and business are brightened with colorful and twinkling lights. In St. Lucia flashing bulbs, illuminated icicles, and animated figurines on lawns, rooftops and businesses are a very common sight and create a very cheerful atmosphere. But while there's no denying their beauty, there is the attendant risk to life, limb and property.
Standards which specifically address the quality, safety and performance of these products are important for consumer safety and protection. The Christmas tree and Other Decorative Lighting Outfits standard adopted by
The standard is designed to ensure minimum acceptable levels of reliability, performance and safety of Christmas tree and decorative lighting outfits. As the agency responsible for ensuring compliance with the standard, the SLBS is closely monitoring the imports of Christmas tree and other decorative lights into the island. Additionally the Bureau has stepped up its surveillance in the market, to ensure that retailers are not in violation of the requirements of this compulsory national standard.
To be retailed all Christmas tree and other decorative lights must come with safety markings, warnings, instructions and voltage information. One of the most recognized safety certification marks is the UL mark. The UL Mark on a product means that UL engineers have tested representative samples of the product for foreseeable safety hazards such as fire and electric shock. The UL Mark consists of the letters "UL" within a circle. The Bureau can be contacted for a listing of some other safety markings that are also acceptable.
In addition to the above specific requirements, consumers should be guided by the following tips and precautions on proper usage of Christmas and decorative lights. They are designed to help prevent electrical fires, overloaded circuits and other holiday fire hazards both outside and inside the home or business:
- Look for a label stating that the lights were tested by a recognized testing laboratory.
- Check light plugs for fuses that guard against overload which could cause a fire.
- Check each string of lights, old and new, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, loose connections, or loose or missing bulbs. If a set is damaged, do not buy or use it.
- Before using lights outdoors, check the labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.
- Always follow the manufacturer's instructions concerning installation and maintenance of the electrical decorations you'll be using.
- Don't mount or support light strings in any way that might damage the cord's wire insulation.
- Don't overload extension cords -- it could cause the cord to overheat and start a fire.
- Don't allow children or pets to play with light strings, or other electrical decorations. These decorations are not toys and could produce a deadly electric shock if they are misused.
The SLBS would like to remind consumers to report unsafe or suspicious lights to the Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards or the Consumer Affairs Department.