NORTHBROOK, Ill., November 17, 2009 — Surveys from the
National Retail Federation and Information Resources, Inc. suggest that
uber-competitive bargain-hunting will dominate as this year’s trend
among families who have spent the year making only purchases of
necessity. But if cost is the only concern for these spending-savvy
“frugalistas,” it could mean they may compromise safety.

Underwriters
Laboratories (UL) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
are working together this season to remind consumers to think about
savings and safety to enjoy true peace of mind. With the NFPA
reporting that December and January are the peak months for the overall
number of home fires, deaths and injuries, safety is an issue than can
often be overlooked with detrimental consequences.

For families,
money savings can come in the form of reusing old decorations or
shopping at thrift stores and deep discounters. It is also a time of
year when families are celebrating and cooking more at home. But if not
done carefully, seemingly cheerful activities could quickly put a
damper on holiday spirits. Old products like light strings can become
worn after years of use. If not carefully evaluated, items like these
can pose a risk of fire or electric shock.

“Decorating the
tree, lighting the menorah and other holiday traditions are what every
family wants to remember,” said John Drengenberg, director of Consumer
Safety at UL. “Unfortunately, all can be a fire hazard or cause an
electric shock or injury, so families should take a few minutes to
think about the most precious gift of all when celebrating with
loved-ones: safety.”

Safe & thrifty gifts

  • Shop at retailers you know and trust.
    Some products found at deep-discount stores may pose potential safety
    hazards, especially if they do not bear a recognized safety
    certification mark, such as the UL Mark (the letters “UL” inside a
    circle).
  • Just look for UL. Products that bear the UL
    Mark mean representative samples have been tested to UL’s rigorous
    safety standards and found to be free of foreseeable safety hazards.
  • Examine packaging.
    Parents should thoroughly examine new products, especially if they have
    young children at home. Pay particular attention to products in boxes
    or packages that do not offer a brand name and manufacturer’s
    information.

Safe home

  • A fresh tree is key.
    “If the needles are not fresh, there is a greater risk of fire,” said
    Lorraine Carli, vice president of communications, NFPA. “While
    Christmas tree fires are rare, a person dies in one of every 18
    reported, so it’s clear they can be deadly.” Ask your tree lot
    attendant to make a fresh cut to the base of the tree and place it in
    water as soon as you get home. Position the tree in a tree stand that
    holds at least one gallon of water and check moisture level daily.
    Dispose of your tree after approximately four weeks.
  • Light it right. Carefully
    inspect each electrical decoration – new or old — before plugging it
    in. Look for cracked sockets or frayed, exposed wires that could become
    a shock or fire hazard. Replace damaged items with new, UL-LISTED
    decorations.
  • Holiday lights – indoor or outdoor?
    Indoor-use only light strings are marked with UL’s green holographic
    label. Indoor or outdoor-use light strings are marked with UL’s red
    holographic label.

Safe family

  • Exercise candle care. 
    If you have children and pets, place candles out of reach and away from
    heavy traffic areas in your home. Never leave a room with candles lit.
  • Stand by your pan. Cooking is the leading cause of home fires. Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking, frying or broiling.
  • Practice makes the holiday perfect.
    Use the holiday season as an opportunity to practice a fire escape plan
    with your children. Every family member should know at least two ways
    to get out of each room in the home.
  • Gift donations. If
    you plan to give to those in need, think safety. Consider donating toys
    your children no longer play with – but are in good condition for
    second-hand use. Before donating toys with electrical components, make
    sure they do not have frayed or bare wires/cords as they can
    potentially cause fire or shock hazards.

“There
are many opportunities for stress and seasonal mishaps. Checking your
home and holiday gifts for the UL Mark will help keep your family safe
to provide peace of mind,” says Drengenberg.

For more information on holiday decorating and gift-giving safety tips, visit www.ul.com/consumers.