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John Cook, safety training specialist, of Fire and Occupational Safety, provides the following information from The Hospital Fire Marshals AssociationHFMA NEWS, for those planning on purchasing decorations for use at home or at work.

Potentially Hazardous Icicle Lights

With the holiday season fast approaching, the safety experts at Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) are notifying consumers and merchandisers that certain "icicle," "curtain" or "Wonder Lights" light strings manufactured in China may present a fire or shock hazard. Sold under various names, these holiday light strings do not comply with UL's safety requirements for such products and are not authorized to bear the UL Mark.

UL's investigation has revealed that these light strings have been available to consumers through retail outlets, department stores, home centers, hobby and craft stores, drugstores, hardware stores, catalogs, and shopping clubs. UL's evaluation of sample light strings indicates the possibilities that live electrical parts could be exposed, which may cause either a fire or shock hazard.

Sold individually in a string of 100 or 150 lights or as a set of three or more light strings, these products can be identified by a "splicing" connector. Located at the point where the individual groups of lights hang down from the main wires, the splicing connector looks similar to one of the light bulb sockets, with wires protruding from both ends. Holographic UL Marks with "E127358", "E127901", "E48723", "E64444", "E97593", "E115759", "E65770" or "E127522", can be found on the products.

As these products do not meet UL's requirements, the use of UL Marks on these products is not authorized. UL is concerned that consumers may be misled into purchasing these light strings because of the UL reference on the product.

While its investigation into other potential hazards associated with these light strings continues, UL encourages consumers to immediately discontinue using these products and return them to the place of purchase. UL has established a toll-free number to help consumers verify the validity of the UL Mark on products manufactured in China. Consumers can call 1- 888-UL4-MARK (1-888-854-6275), Monday through Friday, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., CDT.

Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) is an independent, not-for-profit product safety testing and certification organization that has tested products for public safety for more than a century. Each year, more than 14 billion UL Marks are applied to products worldwide. To obtain further safety information, visit UL's Web site at

Return to:Almanac, University of Pennsylvania, November 18 1997, Volume 44, No. 13