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Posted on: June 16, 08

CSA International, a leading certification and testing organization, released the following safety tips designed to prevent common injuries sustained around the house:

I.      Yard work and Renovations: Whether you are pruning the bushes, mowing the lawn or building a backyard deck, remember these safety tips:

·        Safety 101

¨     The mark’s the spot. Always ensure that electric lawn mowers, barbecues, power tools, ladders, decorative lights, extension cords, safety apparel and other products carry the mark of an approved certification organization such as CSA International. This mark indicates that they have been tested to the applicable, recognized standard.

¨     Let the manual guide you. Read the manufacturer’s operating instructions and use products or appliances only as intended.

¨     Guard yourself with gear. Protect yourself by wearing certified protective eye and footwear. Hearing protection should be worn when operating loud machinery, vehicles or tools.


·        Lawn Mowers

¨     Look before you mow. Before mowing, take the time to walk the yard to remove objects that may cause an obstruction or be tossed by the rotating blades.

¨     Avoid disaster, power down. Never clear an obstruction on a running mower! If the mower is electric, turn off the power and unplug the machine. If it is gas, turn off the power and make sure the engine is not running and that all safety features have been activated.

¨     12 is the limit: Children under 12 years of age should never operate a power lawn mower.


·        Portable Power Tools

¨     The once-over. Inspect all power tools and cords before each use. Never use a power tool that has a cracked casing, loose parts or frayed cords. Ensure all safety guards are in place and in proper working order.

¨     Power check. Make sure the tool is turned off before it is plugged in or unplugged. Always turn off and unplug the tool before changing parts such as drill bits or cutting blades.


¨     Three-pronged solution. Use only electric power tools that have either a three-prong plug or double insulation with a heavy enough gauge – or wire size – to handle the electricity load. Use an outlet with a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter to protect against electric shock.


·        Extension Cords

¨     Cord discord. Check extension cords for wear and damage before use. Discard any cords that are frayed or have damaged insulation.

¨     One moment in time. Use an extension cord only as a temporary connection.

¨     A single connection. Never link extension cords; instead, use a single cord that is long enough to reach from the outlet to an appliance or tool without stretching.

¨     Don’t smother. Never run an electrical cord through a doorway or under a carpet. If a cord becomes hot when plugged in, discontinue use immediately and replace with a heavier gauge cord.

¨     Whether to weather. When working outside, only use cords clearly labelled for outdoor use.


II.      Camping and Boating: Leaving the city behind for a wilderness adventure plays a large part in summertime fun. Whether you are at a camp site, cottage or on the lake, remember the following tips for a safer summer excursion.

·        Camping Stoves and Lanterns

¨     Don’t play with fire. Fuel-burning camping equipment such as stoves, lanterns and outdoor cookers should only be lighted outdoors and at least 10 feet from tents, combustible materials and vehicles. Never light a stove or lantern indoors or in a tent or vehicle! Before use, carefully inspect parts for leaks, blockages or damage.

¨     Vent the tent. To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, fuel-burning equipment should only be used in well-ventilated areas.

¨     Hot is not cool. Keep loose, flammable clothing away from open flames and carefully monitor children and pets around stoves and lanterns. Before packing up equipment, make sure it is completely turned off and cool to the touch.


·        Boats and Cottages

¨     Boat smarts. Always wear a personal flotation device and never consume alcohol or intoxicants while operating a vehicle.

¨     Be alarmed. Ensure that certified carbon monoxide and smoke alarms are tested and properly installed outside all sleeping areas of your cottage or boat.

¨     Pest check. When opening your cottage for the season, carefully inspect all appliances for damage from rodents or insects.

¨     Be prepared. Ensure boats and cottages are equipped with proper safety equipment in the event of an emergency, including first aid kits and fire extinguishers.


III.      Outdoor Entertaining

·        Gas Grills and Barbecues 

¨     Make a clean start. Before firing up the barbecue for the first time, carefully inspect burners and burner tubes for blockages due to dirt, grease, insects or rust build-up. Clean or replace any blocked parts or have a certified technician make repairs.

¨     Blowing bubbles. Check for cracked, brittle or leaking hoses. To check for leaks, apply a 50/50 solution of soap and water to hoses and fittings and turn on the main gas or propane valve while leaving burners off. Any leaks will show up as bubbles. Replace any damaged hoses or fittings.

¨     Take a pass on old gas! Propane cylinders must be inspected and requalified every 10 years in Canada. A date stamp on the cylinder indicates when it was last qualified. Do not use a rusty or damaged cylinder. If in doubt, have your tank replaced.

¨     Breathing fire. Keep grills and barbecues away from combustible materials such as fences, trees, buildings, awnings and carports. Never use a barbecue in a garage!

¨     Buy the Certification Flame. When purchasing or installing a gas barbecue, make sure that it carries the mark of an accredited certification agency such as the CSA International Certification Flame indicating that it meets applicable national standards.


·        Decorative Lighting

¨     Product placement. When installing decorative lighting on patios or along walkways, inspect your lighting to make sure that it is certified and marked for use outdoors.

¨     Power down. Turn off the electricity supply before working with outdoor lighting and unplug lights when possible.

¨     Is the light all right? Carefully inspect lights and lamps to make sure there are no broken or cracked sockets or housings and that there are no bare or frayed wires.

¨     Peak timing. Use a timer to turn lights on and off. Turn lights off during peak summer hours to avoid strain on local electricity resources.

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