ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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ANSI Members "Light the Way" for Improved Safety During the Holiday Season


New York, Dec 05, 2002

The efforts of ANSI members Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) have resulted in the improved safety of the latest trend in Holiday lighting.

Rice lights are strings of tiny bulbs (1/5 the size of typical mini-bulbs) that incorporate motion-control settings like "twinkle" or "fade" and burn longer than their larger cousins. They have been selling well in stores across the country and may give the ubiquitous "icicle light" a run for its money. When some models of the lights debuted, however, safety was a concern.

Last holiday season, CPSC announced recalls of rice lights manufactured by two different companies because they posed a danger of electric shock and fire. One model had wires that could be easily pulled from plugs and light sockets, while the other had undersized wire. Neither product had been approved by UL, a non-profit safety-testing group.

This season, however, boasts rice light sets that have improved safety and that have garnered UL approval. UL, which is also an ANSI-accredited standards developer, evaluates specific types of products and certifies that products meet its standards. The organization gives its UL Mark to rice lights that meet qualifications set out in American National Standard (ANS) UL588, Christmas Tree and Decorative Lighting Outfits. Safe light sets will have a UL seal on their packaging.

In addition to testing products for safety, UL has joined forces with the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), also an ANSI member and ANSI-accredited standards developer, to educate the public about precautions to take for the holiday season with "Operation Decoration." The annual campaign addresses topics such as how to inspect electrical decorations and the importance of taking the decorations down at the conclusion of the season. In addition to lighting safety information, the UL website provides data about toy safety, fire safety and a holiday safety checklist that includes discussions of cooking and home heating.

It is estimated that hundreds of millions of consumers have heard the messages delivered through "Operation Decoration" on the radio, television and in newspapers in this and previous years. In addition, UL added information in Spanish to its site this year in order to increase the campaign's reach.

Joe Hirschmugl, Media Relations Specialist, Underwriters Laboratories Inc., said, "[Operation Decoration] is important because people are so busy during the holidays that they take safety for granted even though the risks are greater…The amazing thing is, [taking safety precautions] only takes a few minutes to do."

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