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Are your electrical items real?

Did you know that even brand new items could pose a serious risk to life?

Over 18 Million people fall victims to counterfeit electrical goods and most are bought via e-commerce sites.

Items such as phone chargers and laptop chargers are the most common targets, items which our technicians are finding more common to fail due to them being cheaply constructed.

In recent years reports of house fires caused by counterfeit and faulty electrical goods, has become more frequent. According to figures from 2015/2016 - 1380 people in England and 285 people in Wales were injured or sadly lost their lives due to electrical fires.

Cookers and Ovens were the biggest contributors followed by White Goods.

In November 2017, 3 fire engines were sent to a family home in Sidbury where a fire in a bedroom was caused by a faulty phone charger.

In 2018, a lady living in Hebburn, Tyne & Wear received burns to her arm after a phone charger overheated.

In March 2015, Linda Merron of Penlan in Swansea, unfortunately lost her life in a house fire caused by a faulty Air Purifier. The item which was bought for £90 off auction website Ebay was imported from China.



Unfortunately even genuine brands can fall victim to counterfeit items with more and more products being made under license in countries known for cheap labour.

Brands such as Babyliss, Apple and Dyson have all been victims to counterfeit copies which are usually priced a lot cheaper than the genuine brands.

The plug shown here is a common counterfeit that our staff com across and was found recently in use by a Photo Booth company. The plug had been provided with a genuine, well known brand of PC.

This plug has no fuse, a plastic insulation on the earth pin, was foul of the required legal dimensions, and only had 3 strands of copper within each wire of the lead.


In depth these faults could lead to the following problems:

Lack of Fuse - Flex can potentially over heat.

3 strands of copper - The lack of copper within the flex means that this will overheat really quickly and can easily melt.

Size of plug - Live pins can be easily touched when plugging and un-plugging the item.

Plastic Insulated Earth Pin - In the event of an electrical fault there is no direct route to the safety earth.



Fuses can also be counterfeit, with cases being reported of Bussmann fuses being copied and sold in Poundworld and Bargain Buys stores. Fake fuses can also be found in plugs of genuine brands.

The main purpose of a fuse is to prevent large currents to enter the circuit which prevents fires due to overheating. Fake fuses do not meat BS1362 regulations posing a risk of an appliance over heating.




What can I do to ensure appliances are safe?

Firstly we recommend you buy appliances from reputable suppliers where they have to meet certain laws and are inspected more closely.

Do your research and the age old saying if something is too good to be true then it probably is and that item that's considerably cheaper online than in store could be a warning sign.

Check the packaging: is the packaging of good quality, are there any spelling mistakes, does it look cheap?

Check the item carries the correct certification and safety labels especially on the item itself.

Check the plug and fuse meets UK standards.

Get a professional to inspect your item because after all they know what else to look out for.

What can I do if I suspect an item is counterfeit?

If you think you may have a counterfeit item then our first bit of advise is stop using it immediately. You should get it checked out by a professional and qualified person. You can also report any suspicions to your local trading standards department so that they can investigate and take the appropriate action where required to help protect others.

Who can I contact for further advice?

Should you like any further advice or to get a professional to inspect an item you can contact one of our friendly qualified members of staff who will be happy to help.

Our contact number is 01792 805011.

References:

Electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk

BBC News

ShieldsGazette.com

DevonLive.com

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