Saturday, October 27, 2012


I must admit, Halloween is my favorite time of year.  Running through the neighborhood with my cousins on Halloween night, all of us toting pillow cases full of candy without a care in the world, are probably my fondest memories as a kid. 

That "without a care in the world" attitude, special to being a child, is what concerns us in the safety business and is the impetus for writing articles this time of year warning parents about the dangers that lurk in the darkness on this night where spooks and goblins rein free. 

According to the National Safety Council and the American Academy of Pediatrics, children ages 5-14 are four times more likely to be killed while walking on Halloween night that at any time of the year.  Falls are the number one cause for injury, followed by being struck by a vehicle.

In addition to falls and pedestrian accidents, this is also the time of year to be especially vigilant for accidental fires due to the increased use of candles as Halloween decorations. 

So, for a safe Halloween filled with fun and treats, I recommend the following safety tips taken from the U.S. Fire Administration and Safe Kids Worldwide sponsored by Fed Ex.:

  • Go only to well-lit houses and remain on porches rather than entering houses.
  • Travel in small groups and be accompanied by an adult.
  • Carry a cell phone and know how to reach you and how to call 911 in an emergency, like if they get lost.
  • Have their full names and phone number attached to their costumes somewhere if they are too young to remember them.
  • Bring treats home before eating them so you can inspect them.  Although the risk that your child's candy has been tampered with is extremely low, there is also the chance that the candy is unwrapped or spoiled.
  • Use costume knives and swords that are flexible, not rigid or sharp.
  • Use flashlights, stay on sidewalks, and avoid crossing yards.
  • Cross streets at the corner, use crosswalks, and do not cross between parked cars.
  • Stop at all corners and stay together in a group before crossing.
  • Wear clothing that is bright, reflective, and flame retardant.  The label should say "Flame Resistant".
  • Consider using face paint instead of masks (Masks can obstruct a child's vision).
  • Avoid wearing hats that will slide over their eyes.
  • Avoid wearing long, baggy, or loose costumes or oversized shoes to prevent tripping accidents.
  • Be reminded to look left, right, and left again before crossing the street.
  • Tell your kids to stay away from candles and jack-o'-lanterns that may be on steps and porches.
  • Kids should never carry candles when they are trick-or-treating.  Always use a flashlight, flameless candle, or light sticks.
  • Don't use candles for decorations.
  • Use only decorative lights tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory like UL.  Check lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections.  Throw away damaged sets.
  • Don't overload extension cords.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


RECALL SENTRY is a bi-monthly post dedicated to keeping you informed of the latest recalls on products that pose a danger to you, your family, friends and co-workers.

BANANA BOAT spray-on sunscreen products.  According to The Associated Press, Energizer Holdings, the maker of Banana Boat sunscreen products, is recalling approximately 500,000 bottles, involving 23 different varieties including products like Ultra Mist Sport, Ultramist Ultra Defense and UltraMist Kids.

A company spokesman said that within the last year, there have been reports of five people receiving serious burn injuries after using the products, four in the U.S. and one in Canada.  The problem apparently involves the spray valve which over applies the product, resulting in a longer drying time on the skin.  Since the product is flammable and as long as it is wet on the skin, the contents will continue to give off flammable vapors, therefore posing a fire risk to the user.  There are warnings on the label advising consumers to keep away from ignition sources, including smoking, while using the product. 

However, according to the article, doctors and burn experts agree that the problem does seem to be a rather rare occurrence. .  Dr. Darrel Rigel, professor of dermatology at New York University was quoted as saying, "I've been doing this for 30 years and I've never seen or heard of this happening before."  Rigel expounded by saying that many aerosol products, including hairspray and spray-on deodorants, contain flammable ingredients including alcohol.

"I think you just have to use common sense and not be near an open fire when you put on aerosol anything," said Rigel.

Dan Dillard, executive director of the Burn Prevention Network, indicated that his firm was contacted earlier in the year regarding two very serious burn injuries involving Banana Boat spray-on sunscreen products.  One injury involved a man who was standing near a barbecue grill and the other involved a woman operating welding equipment.

I must admit, I have never seen this type of injury using a spray-on sunscreen in my 31 years in the fire service.  However, I highly recommend that you sit down with your family, including the largest users of these products, children, to discuss the dangers of using these goods near a flame or any other type of ignition source.

For a complete list of the products involved, go to

The company is advising consumers who purchased the product not to use them.  You can direct your inquiries, Monday through Friday, 8am. to 7pm. eastern time, at 1-800-SAFESUN (1-800-723-3786).

SHARPER IMAGE USB wall chargers recalled by Atomi due to fire and burn hazards.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced on October 10, 2012, the voluntary recall of approximately 80,000 chargers that may overheat and smoke, posing a fire and burn hazard to consumers.

Atomi, maker of the USB chargers, has received 13 reports of the chargers overheating, smoking, and acrid smells coming from the unit.  No injuries have been reported.

The recall involves Sharper image USB wall chargers with model numbers TSI202 and TSI260.  The wall chargers are used to recharge electronic devices through a USB connection including MP3 players and other devices.  The chargers are black plastic and measure approximately 2 1/2" inches high by 1 1/2" inches wide.  "Sharper Image" is printed on the top of unit.  The model number is printed on the bottom of the charger.

These units were sold at the Burlington Coat Factory, Tuesday Morning, and TJ Maxx stores and on various websites from October 2011 thorough September 2012 for between $8.00 and $13.00.  All units were manufactured in China.

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled wall chargers and contact Atomi for instructions on returning the chargers for a full refund.

Contact Atomi, at (800) 790-1440, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday thru Friday or by email at

Legrand Wiremold recalls power strips due to electric shock hazard.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced on September 6, 2012, the voluntary recall of 14,200 Legrand Under Cabinet Power and Lighting four outlet power strips.

The electrical wires are reversed on the receptacles on the power strips, posing a risk of electrical shock.  Only one incident so far as been reported, however no one was injured in that incident.

This recall involves four-outlet under-cabinet power and lighting strips with the model numbers of PX1001.  The power strips come in a red package with "Wiremold-Series Part PX1001" printed on the front. The manufactured dates of the recalled products are presented as product codes January 2011 through June 2012, and are found imprinted on a circle on the bottom with an arrow pointing to the number of the month and year "11" or "12" in the center.  The model number PX1001, and UPC number 0 86698 00125 3, are imprinted on the bottom of the packaging.  Power strips that have a star symbol printed in black ink on the packaging and on the back cover of the power strip are not included in this recall.

These units were sold at Ace Hardware, Do it Best, Home Depot USA, Sutherlands, True Value Hardware and online at between February 2011 and August 2012 for about $40.00.  These units were manufactured in China.

Consumers should immediately unplug and stop using the power strips and return them to Legrand Wiremold for a replacement or refund. 

For additional information, you may contact Legrand Wiremold at (800) 617-1768 between 8 a.m and 5 p.m. ET Monday thru Friday, or visit the firm's website at