CBS’s The Early Show aired a segment last Friday about counterfeit holiday lights and extension cords, mostly from China and mostly available at dollar stores, that can cause fires. The problem is that the manufacturers use shoddy materials, and sometimes even fake UL stickers, to give the impression that they’re following safety guidelines. You find out they’re not when your tree goes up in flames.
It’s usually easy enough to avoid such products. First, don’t buy your extension cords and lights at dollar stores. You should also look for holographic Underwriters Laboratories stickers on the product, and avoid products that aren’t clearly sold under a brand, or that have poorly translated text on the packaging. A good rule of thumb: if electricity is going to flow through it, try not to buy the cheapest, lowest-quality product you can find.
It’s also a good idea to own a fire extinguisher if you don’t already. They’re pretty affordable and available at hardware and home improvement stores.
“Holiday Home Hazard” [CBS]