Avoid a Counterfeit Christmas….#ElectricalSafetyWeek15

During this week’s Electrical Safety Week (9 – 15 November) Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service is alerting people about the dangers of buying cheap electrical goods online in the run up to Christmas this year.

Fire services across the country are alerting people to be aware of the dangers of fake electrical goods and chargers after a number of home fires caused by electrical goods this year.

CFOA has already seen fires caused by ‘hoverboards and balance boards’ causing thousands of pounds worth of damage. A BBC Watchdog investigation found many of the boards were being supplied with non-standard plugs, with many of them not having fuses leading to some overheating,  causing them to explode or catch fire.

According to Electrical Safety First the number of counterfeit and sub-standard electrical goods sold online has increased considerably in recent years with the most common fakes being for popular and sought-after items. The number of fake mobile phones seized has risen by more than 50% with other top electrical fakes including hair straighteners, e.cigarette chargers and games.

Photos below courtesy of Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service.

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Bedfordshire Fire and rescue Service campaign includes statistics from Electrical Safety First showing that:

  • 24% of people have knowingly bought a counterfeit product
  • 21% would consider buying one in order to save money
  • 16% do not think counterfeit products could put them at risk.

However, these fake goods often contain faulty parts that can cause products to overheat and catch fire. With products left charging overnight or on beds, and sometimes under pillows, a small spark can cause a major fire within minutes.

Pete Buckingham, Community Safety Team Manager said:   “With Christmas coming everyone is looking for a bargain to make their money go further. But if a deal looks like it’s too good to be true, then it probably is not only too good to be true but could actually be dangerous and life-threatening to you and your family.

“More people now shop online which increases the opportunities for rough traders to sell you fake products. Our advice is to stick to reputable retailers both on the High Street and online and have a look at Electrical Safety First’s online Safe Shopper’s Guide for advice on shopping safely online.”

You can download the Safe Shopper’s Guide.

Top Five Checks to Avoid a Fake Christmas:

  1. Check the reviews: Use reputable online review sites to see what people who have bought products say about them and the retailer and use website checkers set up by companies to confirm you are buying from an approved stockist.
  2. Check the seller: Look for the seller’s contact details and ensure there is a full address, not just a PO Box number because just having a .co.uk address doesn’t mean they are based in the UK. Is the seller a well-known name or have you bought from them before?
  3. Check the price: If a bargain looks too good to be true, it probably is. Check what others are selling it for and ask the trader why their price is so low.
  4. Check the purchase process: Look for websites that allow you to pay safely – these have a padlock symbol on your screen when you are filling in your payment details – but don’t assume safe payment definitely means your purchase is genuine. Also ensure there is a returns or complaints procedure should you be unsatisfied.
  5. Check the product: When it arrives, firstly check for damage or loose wires, then check the voltage is 230V, 50Hz (the UK’s usual domestic voltage) and that they are fitted with a three-pin UK plug or charger. Also check the packaging note – does it come with instructions and a guarantee? If you have any suspicions about a product’s safety, or if you think it’s a fake, do not use it.

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