Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Wake up, don't fake up!

The first day of the wake up, don't fake up campaign from the electrical safety charity Electrical Safety First took place on Sunday. Electrical Safety First have partnered with the City of London Police to help to spread an important electrical safety message about the safe use of electrical beauty products such as hair dryers, hair straighteners and curlers.

As electricians in South East London, we know how easy it can be to fall into the trap of purchasing fake electrical products – especially when looking good is concerned! There is nothing worse than your hair straighteners packing up when you have a big night out planned! Being offered a pair of cheap hair straighteners can seem like a real life saver in times like these!

Beware of fake electrical items!

Getting your hands on those straighteners is only a short term fix if the straighteners turn out to be fake. Imagine that, plugging them in to find they catch fire when in use – or worse still actually electrocute you. That's not even worth thinking about – dying to look good? That should never happen!

The market for fake electrical beauty items whether that be a hair dryer or electric shaver or anything in-between is huge. Products that seem to match the hair dryer sold in Superdrug for twice the price can be sold in on line shops or on market stalls can seem really tempting. Unfortunately these very products have also revealed some nasty electrical injuries or serious burns to the face and hands.

Many fake electrical products lack basic safety features that you probably take for granted on genuine products.

What is so wrong with fake electrical items?

Everyone likes a good deal and if that good deal is safe and fit for use than of course no one would stop you. However fake electrical items can and do kill and failing that, can cause expensive electrical damage in your home or could even burn it down! Is it really worth the risks to safe a few quid on a hair-dryer?

Fake electrical beauty products can overheat and catch fire. Often this is because the wiring inside them is not suitable and literally just melts with the heat. This is even more scary when electrical beauty products are often used around the face.

The problem with fake electrical products is that they nearly always look the same as the genuine product at a glance. Below are the typical problems found with fake electrical items:

  • Poor outer casing

Take a closer look at the plastic casing of the product and it can often appear to be badly constructed. Look out for cracks in the plastic where bare wires can be seen or badly fitted cable again where wire could be seen.

  • No CE mark

No CE mark would mean the product doesn't comply with strict UK or EU law meaning you would be at risk of electrical shock or injury. Although electrical items have been known to be stamped with a fake CE mark, not having one at all would definitely mean to avoid at all costs!

  • No box or instructions

When you purchase a genuine electrical product, you would get a box and instructions written in English. If you find you are presented with a product with no box and no instructions then this is bad news. All electrical products have to be supplied with instructions and suitable packaging.

  • No guarantee

Fake electrical products are nearly always a waste of money as there is no way of returning them if/when a fault develops. All you can do is discard it and buy a new (genuine) item!

Damage to home electrics

Is is not just the electrical item itself that is the risk. Plugging it in can cause overheating to your socket too. In turn this can lead to overheating of internal wiring in your home and worst case fire. Imagine if you accidentally left a pair of fake hair straighteners unattended and the damage they could potentially cause.

As electrical contractors in London, we have carried out extensive electrical repair work for householders who have unfortunately fallen victim to fake electrical items.  If you feel that you have used fake electrical products and are concerned about the damage they could cause, unplug immediately and ask a qualified, registered electrician to carry out an EICR on your property.

Fake electrical products are no fun. Save your pennies and buy the real deal. It might cost you more in the beginning but longer term, you'll be pleased. Fake electrical products could cost you your life or home....there is no person in this land who would be prepared to risk so much for something so little.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Are you using a dangerous electrical appliance?

Product recalls – everyone knows about them, yet how many of us actually know for certain that all our electrical appliances in our home are actually safe?

Unless your product is registered with the company your purchased it from and they have your correct address details, it is pretty much down to you to find out for yourself about electrical items that form a product recall. There is no central place to check currently so you have to be pro-active and the truth is that we lead such busy lives, finding out about potential product recalls do not even feature on our ever lengthening 'to do' lists!

A cold wake up call!

One of our electricians here at Fulcher Edwards helped out a valued customer last week when our team went to fit a smoke alarm system – one of the many electrical services in London that we offer.

During the course of the day, our electrician noticed that the customer had a Beko fridge freezer. He took a minute to look at the serial number inside the fridge as he had also had the same fridge that was part of a product recall. After checking on line on the Electrical Safety First's product recall list, he discovered that the customer was at risk of fire.

The customer was not aware that the integrated fridge freezer was a fire risk as it was in her house when she purchased it. Thanks to the observance of our electrician, she contacted Beko who have arranged to make a free of charge modification.

This story had a happy ending, but how many appliances are disappearing under the radar without notice?

Don't underestimate the danger

It is not only large electrical appliances that have the potential to cause electric shock or fire, small products like adaptors, chargers and small items such as computer routers all present the same dangers.

Many product recalls of this nature originate from China where genuine products have been copied or universal products are manufactured which do not meet strict EU or UK standards. Such products are widely found on line and in most cases carry no guarantee or exchange service meaning the product simply has to be destroyed. This is at best – many of these products are so poorly made that bare live wire is often exposed leaving users at risk of electric shock.

The latest product recall on the electrical safety first website is a X-360 slim AC adapter. It is a black power supply sold for use with the Xbox 360, but is not a genuine product. If anyone in your household has an Xbox 360 and has purchased a cheap version of a power pack, check to see if it is this one. The plug and supply cord do not meet the required standards leaving users at risk of electric shock.

Where to find information about recalled products

As one of the leading electrical companies in London, we actively promote the dangers of electrical items and the damage they can cause. They are not just a risk, they present a real danger to life and can cause costly damage to the electrics within your home. Unfortunately we find ourselves carrying out increasing amounts of electrical work in homes in and around South East London which has been caused by dangerous electrical items that are either fake or were under a product recall notice.

Although there is no single place to check for product recall notices, the electrical safety charity Electrical Safety First has a product checker of all electrical items that have been recalled since 2007. It is worth checking through this list from time to time as it also contains instructions on what to do if your electrical item is affected.

The most important thing to do is not to knowingly use a product you know to be under a product recall or which you suspect is dangerous. Contact the retailer or manufacturer for advise if you feel a product you are using has developed a dangerous fault.

Never take a risk with electricity it is simply not worth it.