Christmas Eve is no time for "Some Assembly Required"

Consumer Reports News: December 22, 2010 09:51 AM

When Santa's elves haven't pulled their weight putting together that big surprise gift, taking time to read directions before you tackle the assembly yourself is the key to ensuring you don't celebrate the holidays in the emergency room.

Toys, bicycles and exercise equipment can be especially hazardous if you're rushed. Be prepared for confusing directions and busy or vacant help desks the closer you get to the December 25th. Tired gift givers might be tempted to improvise in ways that can introduce hazards, so it's important to plan ahead. Even a small tricycle can turn out to be a lot more complicated than you might expect. For some items, like bicycles, we recommend leaving assembly to seasoned professionals at specialty bike shops. Bikes from some big box stores might not be properly assembled or adjusted, especially during the busy holiday season. 

Damaged or missing parts are not uncommon with new treadmills, and putting together large exercise equipment like ellipticals can be especially messy and challenging, even for our own experienced test engineers, who do it regularly. Many times assembly requires two people, so make sure you have someone available to help.

Opening even pre-assembled items can be hazardous too; plastic packaging can be as sharp as the blade you need to open it. Keep those tools, packaging, and the plastic shards, out of kids' hands and take your time no matter how excited the kids are to get their hands on new toys. Consider liberating toys from troublesome packaging ahead of time, ideally before you start sipping eggnog. Although the toys inside may be safety tested, the packaging is not.

Next up: Our Holiday wish list from the Safety Blog team.

-Carolyn Cairns

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