Fire Department warns of CFL bulb dangers – Hinsdale, Illinois

Make Sure You Use A CFL Bulb Capable Of Dimming!

Be Warned: Some Of The Bulbs Are Not Supposed To Be Used In Dimmers

Anne State


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Do you have a compact fluorescent light, or CFL, in your house?

Many of you probably do. They use less energy. But there’s a warning on the box that most people never read.

CBS 2’s Anne State reports.

A family in Hinsdale says they had a CFL bulb in the ceiling. It was on a dimmer. They had no idea that was a bad idea.

Tess and Anna Ellithorpe are at home on a weeknight with their dog, Daisy. Only it isn’t their home. It’s a rental.

Their own house caught fire.

“Smoke started coming down from every light bulb,” Tess said.

What happened next is the reason Tess was given a “Good Citizen” award from the Hinsdale Fire Department. She ran upstairs and screamed “Fire!” to alert family members. Thanks to her, everyone got out safely.

Hinsdale Fire Chief Mike Kelly says the fire was probably caused by a CFL bulb on a dimmer. Most CFL’s are not supposed to be used on a dimmer.

How do you know which ones? Check the box — if you can read the fine print.

“We had to enlarge the information on the packaging so we could read it clearly,” Kelly said.

Does the average person takes the time to read that small print?

“I would say no,” the chief said.

Underwriters Laboratory has tested CFL bulbs. An engineer said fires are rare, but the potential exists if you use the wrong bulb in a dimmer.

Tess’ Dad, Jeff Ellithorpe, says he searched the Internet and was surprised by the lack of information on mixing CFL’s and dimmers.

But he didn’t seem surprised by what his daughter did.

“Well Tess did great,” he said. “She’s our hero in our family. And we’re very proud of her.”

Bottom line? Before you change a light bulb read the box. One more tip: Look for the “UL” mark. That means the product has been tested for safety.

Some CFL bulbs are specifically made for dimmers, but consumers need to check the box.

(© MMX, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

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