Last December, the Commission issued a warning that approximately 300,000 sets of indoor-outdoor miniature Christmas lights that sold around the country over the past two years could present severe hazards of electric shock. The companies involved initiated a voluntary recall of potentially dangerous sets.
A CPSC area office survey underway since July of manufacturers, importers, and distributors already has turned up over 100 cases of decorative lights with possible defects or hazards. The Commission is seeking voluntary corrective action by the companies, but could initiate a hearing to seek mandatory repair, replacement, or refund for consumers.
According to a CPSC spokesperson, the Consumer Deputy programs augment official agency inspection efforts and serve important educational functions for both consumers and retailers.
The Consumer Deputies are trained by staff from the Commission's 14 area offices. The estimated 500-600 students, consumer and community organization members, and state and local government workers will visit department, hardware, grocery and drug stores and ask store managers to survey the shelf stock.
Deputies also will provide retailers with a copy of a special fact sheet to help them evaluate the comparative safety of Christmas lights through five screening methods: cracked sockets, loose add-on end connectors, exposed bare wires, exposed bulb contact wires, and exposed socket contacts. Past Consumer Deputy programs relating to children's fire resistant sleepwear in sizes 0-14, poison prevention packaging and toys have found virtually 100 percent cooperation by retailers. In some cases, official CPSC inspectors will make follow up visits.
The Consumer Deputy program for Christmas lights is being coordinated with the Commission's holiday season information program. Among the publications available free are: "Toy Safety, Always in Season," "The Safe Use of Electrical Toys," "Think Toy Safety Coloring Book," and fact sheets with safety tips on decorations, fireplaces, tricycles, bicycles and toboggans, sleds and snow disks.
To obtain any of these publications, as well as the special Christmas light guide for retailers, or for further information on the Consumer Deputy program call the Commission's toll free hotline: 800-638-2772.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC’s work to ensure the safety of consumer products has contributed to a decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 40 years.
Federal law bars any person from selling products subject to a publicly announced voluntary recall by a manufacturer or a mandatory recall ordered by the Commission.
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