Posts belonging to Category Consumer Product Safety Commission



When it Comes to Decorations…Be Fire Conscious

The US Fire Safety Administration shares the following information to keep you safe this holiday season.

Decorating homes and businesses is a long-standing tradition around the holiday season. Unfortunately, these same decorations may increase your chances of fire. Based on data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), an estimated 240 home fires involving Christmas trees and another 150 home fires involving holiday lights and other decorative lighting occur each year. Together, these fires result in 21 deaths and $25.2 million in direct property damage.

Following a few simple fire safety tips can keep electric lights, candles, and the ever popular Christmas tree from creating a tragedy.

Learn how to prevent a fire and what to do in case a fire starts in your home. Make sure all exits are accessible and not blocked by decorations or trees.

Christmas Trees

fire safetyWhat’s a traditional Christmas morning scene without a beautifully decorated tree? If your household includes a natural tree in its festivities, take to heart the sales person’s suggestion – “Keep the tree watered.”

Christmas trees account for hundreds of fires annually. Typically, shorts in electrical lights or open flames from candles, lighters or matches start tree fires. Well-watered trees are not a problem. A dry and neglected tree can be.

Selecting a Tree for the Holidays

Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needles should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long and, has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard.

Caring for Your Tree

Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree. Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.

Disposing of Your Tree

Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood-burning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. The best way to dispose of your tree is by taking it to a recycling center or having it hauled away by a community pick-up service.

Maintain Your Holiday Lights

Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.

Do Not Overload Electrical Outlets

Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires – they should not be warm to the touch. Do not leave holiday lights on unattended!

Use Only Nonflammable Decorations

All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and placed away from heat vents. If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.

Don’t Block Exits

Ensure that trees and other holiday decorations do not block an exit way. In the event of a fire, time is of the essence. A blocked entry/exit way puts you and your family at risk.

Never Put Wrapping Paper in the Fireplace

Wrapping paper in the fireplace can result in a very large fire, throwing off dangerous sparks and embers that may result in a chimney fire.

Avoid Using Lit Candles

Consider using battery-operated flameless candles, which can look, smell and feel like real candles.

If You Do Use Lit Candles

Make sure candles are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Keep candles at least 12 inches from anything that can burn. Never leave a room or go to bed with candles burning.

Never Put Lit Candles on a Tree

Do not go near a Christmas tree with an open flame – candles, lighters or matches.

Have a fire-free holiday season!

 

 

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Toys…Tips for Purchasing and Safety

With Christmas fast approaching and many of us still buying toys, I am sharing a message from a staff member of St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Tampa, Florida.

toysMore than half of the three billion toys and games sold in the United States each year are purchased at Christmas time. And while the majority of toys are safe, thanks in part to stronger federal rules and higher standards from toy makers, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that in 2011 alone more than 193,200 U.S. children were treated in hospital emergency departments for toy-related injuries.

Toys have changed over the years and the assortment can be astounding, particularly to those who haven’t shopped for kids in a while,” said Bevin Maynard, a child advocate at St Joseph’s Children’s Hospital.”Child safety, however, never goes out of style. It is something parents and family members should always keep in mind when selecting gifts for youngsters.”

Maynard notes that appropriate selection and proper use of toys, combined with parental supervision, can greatly reduce the incidence and severity of toy-related injuries.

When selecting toys this holiday season, be sure to:

  • Choose toys suitable to the child’s age, interest and skill level. “Age labels are for safety reasons and not intended as developmental ratings,” said Maynard. “If a package indicates the toy isn’t suitable for children under 3, it doesn’t mean that your 2-year-old won’t be able to figure out how to play with the toy, but rather that the toy has small parts or sharp pieces that could injure a younger child.”
  • Skip toys with small magnetic pieces for any child under age 6 or under age 10 if they have younger siblings who could easily access the pieces.
  • Look for well-made toys.
  • Avoid toys that produce loud noises. High-volume games can permanently impair a child’s hearing, and loud sounds can frighten a younger child.
  • Avoid toys painted with lead paint. Exposure to lead can result in lead poisoning, causing serious damage to a child’s brain, kidneys and nervous system.
  • Avoid electrical toys with heating elements (batteries, electrical plugs) for children under the age of 8. These toys are a potential burn hazard.
  • Avoid toys with strings, straps or cords longer than 7 inches, which can wrap around a child’s neck and accidentally strangle him or her.
  • Immediately discard plastic wrappings on toys before they become dangerous play things for young children.

Maynard adds that riding toys should not be used near stairs, traffic or swimming pools, and that parents can use the cardboard tube from a roll of toilet paper to identify small toy parts that are potential choking hazards. “Small children should not play with anything that can fit into one of these cylinders.”

A Gift is Not Complete Unless Proper Protective Gear is Included
Bicycles, skates, scooters and skateboards are popular gifts for the holidays, but if children lack the proper protective gear or skills, injury and death can occur. To keep kids safe whenever they “wheel” around, be sure to:

  • Include a helmet as part of a gift, which according to Safe Kids USA, can reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent and the risk of brain injury as much as 88 percent.
  • Buy stickers or bike reflectors and use them on the front, sides and back of the bike to increase the child’s visibility to drivers.
  • Buy a bike horn or a bell as a stocking stuffer. This tool is essential for warning motorists and pedestrians of a bicyclist’s approach.
  • Don’t forget to buy elbow and knee pads as well as wrist guards for skates and skateboards.

Kids sometimes are reluctant to wear protective gear, insisting that they are good riders or complain that none of their friends wear them. But Maynard urges parents to resist that temptation, and notes “requiring children to wear a helmet every time, everywhere they go, is the best thing you can do to protect them.”

For more information on how to keep kids safe this holiday season, or anytime of the year, visit facebook.com/stjosephschildrens.

SOURCE St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital

 

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Safety Tips for Pool and Spa from NSF International

The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated that almost 300 children under the age of 5 drown in swimming pools each year and thousands more are injured.

One of the organizations that knows how to protect our children from such accidents is NSF International.

NSF International helps protect you by certifying products worldwide and writing internationally-recognized standards for food, water and consumer goods. As an independent, not-for-profit, global public health and safety organization, NSF is committed to improving human health and safety worldwide.

Here are some safety tips for pool and spa owners from NSF International:

  • Small children require constant adult supervision around pools and spas. There is no substitute for the watchful eye of caring adults.

  • Never use a pool or spa that has a broken or missing drain cover. If family or friends have pools that your children visit or you swim at a public pool, check for properly attached drain covers and instruct children to keep away from the drains.
  • In addition to being correctly installed, drain covers and grates should meet current anti-entrapment standards set forth in the Pool and Spa Safety Act to help prevent body parts and hair from becoming trapped. Covers that meet these standards will display ANSI/APSP 16 or ANSI/ASME A112.19.8 on the cover’s exterior. Download our Hazards of Pool & Spa Drain infographic for more information.
  • Make sure you know if anyone using your pool is a non-swimmer, especially the children.
  • Establish and enforce rules for pool and spa use. Don’t allow kids to run or play games near the pool. Keep toys, particularly tricycles or wheeled toys, away from pools, as children playing with these could accidentally fall into the water.
  • Install a certified barrier or pool alarm to help prevent unauthorized persons from entering the area surrounding your pool or spa. Wristband alarms are also available to alert parents if a child should accidentally fall into the water.
  • Keep your pool and spa properly sanitized and maintained. Use pool treatment chemicals safely and always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Store chemicals in a cool, dry area out of the reach of children.
  • Make sure that an emergency shut-off switch for the pump is installed nearby and that it is easily accessible. Everyone should know where these switches are located and how to use them.
  • Check local building codes to ensure the fence surrounding your pool meets minimum type and height requirements. Gates leading to the pool area should have a self-closing and self-latching mechanism to prevent unauthorized entry.
  • Drain standing water from the surface of pool and spa covers, as small children can drown in even the smallest amount of water. Always remove covers completely before using a pool or spa.

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