Tips and tricks for safe garage sale hunting



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Summer is the perfect chance to hunt for bargains thanks to frequent yard sales all over the city.

While you might find hidden treasures for your collection, check that any items you find aren’t hazardous.

Here are some tips on inspecting the item’s safety and detecting counterfeit or illegal goods at a yard sale, courtesy of the CSA Group, an organization that tests the safety of everyday products.

Second-hand items:

  • Look for certification. When buying electrical or gas products, look for a label from a reliable certification organization, such as the CSA group. Check that the logo matches the same colour and design of other similar products.
  • Check for frays. Inspect wires and extension cords for any signs of damage. Look for worn insulation, cord rips and loose parts on the plug. If possible, have a qualified electrician repair the item and ensure that it meets safety standards.
  • Watch out for tools. Check if outdated power tools meet current safety standards before you use them. 
  • Don’t buy headwear. Avoid buying used bicycle, hockey or construction helmets from yard sales. There may have hidden damage that will affect your protection in dangerous situations.
  • Seek expert advice. Ask local officials to assess whether the product is safe to use. It is possible that some products may have been recalled or banned for resale.

Counterfeit or illegal goods:

  • Inspect the packaging. If an item is counterfeit, the packaging is usually poorly designed. Unclear labels and misspelled text often indicate a counterfeit product. Check for discrepancies between the description of the product and the contents inside the package.
  • Look for a recognized name. If the product doesn’t carry a trademark or brand name, it may be counterfeit. Look for a return address or the company’s contact information to ensure its authenticity.
  • Inspect the appearance. Examine the appearance and feel of the product. Most counterfeit products are light and flimsy.
  • Check with experts. Check a certification agency’s website to make sure the product is certified. Match the product to the certification record.  Visit the CSA International website to verify CSA group certified products directories.csa-international.org/.

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