Logos to look for when buying gifts

Electronics are on the top of many wish lists this year. However, before you make a purchase, it is important to make sure the products have been inspected for safety. Safe Electricity shares tips on what to look for so you can ensure the electronic gifts will be safe for your loved ones.

Products packaged in boxes that do not display a brand name and do not have a safety certification mark should be regarded with suspicion. Electronics without official markings could be counterfeit, which are often cheaply made and present safety concerns. Stay away from electrical products sold at temporary venues where you will be unable to make returns.

Although these products are often less expensive than their certified counterparts, they lack the reliability of electronics that have been tested and marked by an independent laboratory. If the price is well below market value, there is a likelihood that it is a counterfeit.

A certification mark shows that a product follows safety standards and has been approved based on quality tests. While these marks, often found on the bottom of a product, cannot guarantee safety, they do indicate compliance with the preset standards. To help ensure the safe use of the product, consumers must also properly maintain it and follow all manufacturers’ directions for use.

Safe Electricity provides the following tips to help weed out fake safety labels:

  • Take a close look at the label for signs of quality. If the label is blurred or torn, don’t trust it.
  • Check the packaging for misspellings or incorrect information. This is a sure sign of a counterfeit product.
  • Buy from brands labeled with certified safety laboratories you can trust. If you come across a safety label you are unfamiliar with, check its legitimacy online. Common legitimate marks are UL, CSA and ETL.

Certification marks can be found on a variety of products, including electrical appliances, computers and electrical panelboards. The UL mark, an encircled “UL,” indicates that the product is approved by Underwriters Laboratories Standards. CSA, a logo with a C and an SA inside, shows that a product has met Canadian Standards Association testing. If it has “US” underneath the logo, it has been certified for the U.S. market. The circled ETL logo means that the product complies with the safety standards of Intertek Testing Services.

These are just some common safety logos to keep in mind. For a full list of nationally recognized testing laboratories, go to OSHA.gov.

In addition to the safety label, there are other safety considerations when shopping for the perfect gift. As with any present, consider the wants and the needs of the recipient. Make sure all products are age and ability appropriate.

If you are purchasing electronics for a child, make sure batteries, small pieces and cords do not present safety risks. Remember, don’t purchase electronics that plug into the wall for children under the age of 10. Instead, opt for battery-powered products.

Buying refurbished electronics can cut back on the costs of a new product; however, only buy used products from brands and manufacturers that you know and trust. If the packaging seems tampered with or is already opened, make sure the product is undamaged and still under warranty. Before you purchase electronics that have already been opened, be sure all safety components are still in place.

For more information on electrical safety, visit SafeElectricity.org.