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Posted: June 5, 2009 12:30 a.m.

Do it yourself advice for home improvements

Because of the current economic crisis, more and more homeowners instead of contracting out work around their home are trying to perform some of the jobs themselves. Local Electrical Contractor Terry Ozburn sends along the following suggestions for new do-it-yourselfers.

Every day, counterfeit electrical products are finding their way into our homes, businesses and public institutions. These fraudulent products pose a serious financial and legal liability to the electrical industry, and they have become a grave safety crisis for our communities — a crisis that requires immediate action.

More than a million counterfeit electrical products, including extension cords, power strips, batteries and hair dryers, have been recalled in recent years. Perhaps even more shocking, recent statistics from Gallup Consulting and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimate that 64 percent of counterfeit electrical products in the United States are purchased from legitimate shops and retailers.

Counterfeit electrical products can be difficult to spot. They can be knock-off versions of brand name products or items that bear an unauthorized certification marking and may have been made without key components or compliance to relevant safety standards in order to save money. While these shortcuts may offer cost savings, they pose great danger and aren’t worth risking someone’s safety.

Here are some points to consider:

• Look for the CSA, UL or ETL-SEMKO certification marks. If you have concerns about the marks, contact the certifier.

• Beware of bargains that seem too good to be true. Products may be cheap because they are counterfeit or defective.

• Use established vendors who purchase their goods from legitimate distributors and genuine manufacturers. Fly-by-night vendors may not be willing to grant refunds for electrical products that do not perform as they should.

• Check the warning label. It should be free of grammatical errors and should not conflict with information found elsewhere on the package.

• Look for the name and contact information of the manufacturer. If this information is missing, consider purchasing electrical products elsewhere.

• Avoid no-name products that lack brand affiliation.

• Be proactive. Organizations such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission and Underwriters Laboratories provide information about product recalls on their Web sites.

To learn more about ESFI and the 2009 National Electrical Safety Month Buyer Beware Anti-Counterfeiting Campaign, visit www.electrical-safety.org.

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