London Fire Brigade

Fire chiefs urge Christmas shoppers to buy gifts with care

03 December 2013

Fire chiefs are warning Christmas shoppers to take extra care this festive season by making sure the gifts they buy their nearest and dearest do not inadvertently put them in danger.

Electrical gadgets are often at the top of people’s Christmas lists but faulty appliances can  pose a serious fire risk. A current list of recalled electrical goods reveals a wide variety of toys, beauty products and seasonal accessories to be the subject of product recalls - everything from radio controlled boats, cars and helicopters to hair straighteners, nodding reindeer silhouettes and flashing Santa hats.

To help Londoners concerned about the safety of presents they are giving or receiving this Christmas, London Fire Brigade has joined forces with the Electrical Safety Council (ESC) so they can now search for recalled faulty electrical products by accessing the charity’s product recall data base direct from the Brigade’s own website.

As well as giving the product name, brand, model number and recall date, the ESC’s product checker database outlines the problem with the appliance and the risk it poses – whether that is fire or electrical shock.

London Fire Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety Regulation Steve Turek  said: “This isn’t about scaremongering but about making sure that consumers have all the available safety information. The vast majority of electrical goods are manufactured to very high safety standards but where electrical products have been recalled they can often present a very real risk of electrical fire to householders.

“If you have bought someone an electrical gadget for Christmas or even treated yourself to a flashing Santa hat and you think there might be a problem with it you can check the Electrical Safety Council’s database on our website to see whether that product has been recalled by the manufacturer.”

The Electrical Safety Council launched the easy to use on-line tool earlier this year after research carried out by the charity revealed a shockingly low response to product recalls.

Emma Apter from the Electrical Safety Council said: “We know that returning a recalled product is not always convenient, especially if it’s an item that you use every day, but recall notices are issued to keep consumers safe. The small inconvenience of returning a recalled item is worth it when you consider that faulty products can electrocute or cause a fire.

“The average success rate of a recall is only 10-20%, which means that there are potentially millions of dangerous electrical products in homes across the UK. Our online product checker is a quick and easy way to check if your electrical items are subject to a recall.”

For  people in any doubt about whether an electrical appliance that  they own is subject to a recall notice, the Brigade’s advice is to always unplug it and contact the manufacturer or a qualified electrician.

In 2011 London Fire Brigade successfully ran a campaign urging people to check if they owned particular models of BEKO fridge freezer subject to a recall notice after fire investigators established a link between a faulty defroster timer switch on the appliances and a number of house fires the Brigade had attended.

At the time the Brigade believed more needed to be done to alert people to the potential danger. It now hopes by teaming up with the Electrical Safety Council and encouraging people to use its recall database, people will be better informed and more able to quickly and easily discover if they own a product that is subject to a recall.

You can access the Electrical Safety Council’s product checker recall data base at: http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/product-recalls.asp