Garage Sale and Thrift Store Safety

With the advent of spring come the “Garage Sale” signs popping up all over the place like overgrown dandelions. We all love the bargains and many of us can spend whole days digging through other peoples discards in an effort to find that extraordinary deal or that hidden treasure. As someone who’s been nicknamed “Treehugger” by one of my co-workers I am a big advocate of reusing and recycling rather than discarding items that may still have some life left in them but there are a few exceptions. I’m referring to items that may pose a threat or danger either to you or to you children.

It pays to educate yourself about what you don’t want to purchase used and to stick to that rule, no matter how great of a deal it might seem. It also pays to know what to look for in order to find bargains that aren’t going to blow up on you or shatter and injure you.

The consumer safety advocate group provides us with the following tips regarding second-hand purchases:

Look for and inspect the mark: Avoid electrical or gas products if a label is missing from a recognized certification organization such as CSA Group. Look closely at the certification mark to ensure it matches with the design and color of the certification mark from the same organization on other similar products.

Find frays: Check wiring and extension cords for wear and damage. In particular, look for worn insulation and splices on the cord and loose or exposed parts on the plug. To avoid shock and fire hazards, have a qualified electrician make any repairs to ensure products meet current safety standards.

Be a better builder: Be wary of outdated power tools and building supplies that may not meet current standards or codes. Do not operate any power tools or equipment without having them inspected to ensure all safeguards are in place.

Keep your head: Avoid purchasing used bicycle, hockey or construction helmets as you do not know their history or what damage may be hidden from plain view. A helmet that has been in a serious crash may have lost its full protective capabilities.

Expert advice: In addition to having used and historical items appraised for their value, buyers should also seek out advice from local regulators or officials to ensure products are safe for use. Some products may have been recalled or even banned for resale in some areas.


Be cautious of inferior packaging: Counterfeit packaging is often poorly designed or has only partial illustrations. Misspellings and unclear printing on products and labels may be another indicator of a fake product. Check for discrepancies between the contents of the product package and its description, as well as missing product information or package enclosures.

Look for a recognized name: When a product doesn’t include a brand identifier or trademark, it may be a counterfeit. Brand-name companies want you to know whose product you’re buying. Also look for missing return addresses or company contact information.

Sturdy products only: Check the “look and feel” of goods – fake products often seem light and flimsy.

Check with the experts: Confirm CSA Group certification of a product by comparing the product’s identification against the certification record at .

For more everyday consumer tips and safety advice, please visit

About CSAGroup CSA Group is an independent, not-for-profit membership association dedicated to safety, social good and sustainability.Its knowledge and expertise encompass standards development; training and advisory solutions; global testing and certification services across key business areas including hazardous location and industrial, plumbing and construction, medical, safety and technology, appliances and gas, alternative energy, lighting and sustainability; as well as consumer product evaluation services. The CSA certification mark appears on billions of products worldwide. For more information about CSA Group visit