Un-deck the halls? Regs target Christmas lights

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Christmas lights and other seasonal decorations are the target of new federal regulations as the holidays approach.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) proposed new requirements on Tuesday to prevent decorative lights from causing electrical fires and other dangers in homes around the country.

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The new rules would apply to everything from Christmas tree lights to the light sculptures and animated figures of Santa Claus and his reindeer that illuminate front yards across the country.

Decorative lighting that does not meet new standards will be considered hazardous, the agency said.

"Consumers can be seriously injured or killed by electrical shocks or fires if seasonal and decorative lighting products are not made using minimum wire size, sufficient strain reliefs, or over-current protection," the agency wrote.

Since 1980, more than 250 people have been killed when decorative lights malfunction, according to the CPSC.

However, the agency noted that the number of deaths caused by Christmas lights has declined to about one person each year from a high of 13 people each year in the early 1990s.

The public has 75 days to comment on the proposed rules.