LANCASHIRE Trading Standards is warning Christmas shoppers to be on the lookout for imported electrical goods with potentially dangerous power leads.
The risk is highest for items bought over the internet. A local man recently complained to Trading Standards about computer hardware bought online which arrived with a power cable with a potentially dangerous plug. The buyer had thought the trader was from the UK, but further investigation suggests the trader is based in China.
The plug had no fuse, the pins were too close to the edge of the plug, and it was made with plastic moulding partly covering the earth pin – faults that could electrocute someone or cause a fire.
Strict UK safety laws require most domestic electrical products to be supplied with properly fitted, fused and independently approved UK three-pin plugs that comply with British safety standard BS1363. Plugs must be marked with this standard number and with the mark of an independent approval body such as BSI, BEAB or ASTA.
County Councillor Albert Atkinson said: “People should be extra careful in the run-up to Christmas if ordering electrical goods over the internet, particularly from unknown sellers based abroad. It is essential that you make sure you know the name and address of the seller.
“What may initially seem like a bargain could end up costing someone their life – if a product is cheap you must ask yourself whether it’s safe.”
The plug reported recently to Trading Standards was smaller than a standard UK plug, approximately 4cm in length, in a rounded triangular shape, black in colour, with “W-Y78 CA” etched into the face of the casing. The power cable connector has ‘10A 250V’ etched into it.
County Coun. Atkinson added: “Clearly these power cables present a potential fire and electrocution hazard and could cause serious injury, so I would urge anybody who has one to stop using it straight away.”
Shoppers can find further advice and top tips on buying electrical goods online on the Electrical Safety Council’s website at www.esc.org.uk/public/guides-and-advice/safe-shoppers-guide/
Anyone with concerns about the safety of goods they have purchased can report them to the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06.