Last updated: 27/11/2020, 10:00 AM

Brigade warns bargain hunters to “beware of fakes” ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales

27/11/2020 10:00
Safety warnings

London Fire Brigade is warning bargain hunters to beware of the fire risks of buying fake electrical products ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Amid claims that November may be a record-breaking month for online spending, there is a concern that buyers who would usually head to the shops to bag a bargain, may be enticed by online deals that are just too good to be true.

Electrical faults are the second highest cause of accidental fires in London and with electrical devices and appliances amongst the most commonly discounted products in the Black Friday sales, we’re urging people to take the time to check that you’re buying a safe product. There are many fake and non-compliant products for sale and they can be hard to tell apart from genuine ones. Buying branded products from a supplier you can trust can help to ensure that the correct safety standards for that product have been met.

Fire safety and electrical items

Take a look at our electrical safety tips

Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, Charlie Pugsley, said: "Sometimes, if a deal seems too good to be true, it could be because it is. With some great deals popping up just before Christmas, it can be tempting to buy cheap electrical products, but it isn’t worth putting your life at risk and potentially destroying your home.

“Some popular online marketplaces sell products by third party sellers who aren’t bound by the same safety regulations as other UK retailers. Buy from reputable retailers that you can trust where possible and always make sure electrical appliances have a British or European safety mark before you buy them.”

Consider installing Electrical Safety First’s ‘check it out’ plug-in, to remind you when you’re not buying directly from the manufacturer or retailer.

Over 1,200 fires last year involved faulty electrical equipment

Last year, there were over 1,200 fires in London involving faulty electrical equipment, leads and appliances, including chargers for everyday electrical items. Lots of these items, like phones and laptops, use lithium-ion batteries which are used safely on a daily basis, but batteries can present a fire risk if they’re over-charged, short circuited, submerged in water or damaged.

Last week, a man and three children were taken to hospital after an electric scooter, which had been left on charge, started a fire at their home in Plumstead. The Brigade’s Fire Investigators believe the blaze was caused by the failure of a lithium-ion battery within the scooter.

Electric scooter damaged by fire in Plumstead

Whether you’re buying gifts, or taking advantage of the sales for yourself, if you buy a rechargeable device, it’s really important that you use the correct type of charger for your product. With some retailers selling replacement chargers for just a few pounds, it can be tempting to overlook their potential dangers. However, using a cheaper, incompatible charger could cause a devastating fire.

Firefighter safety tips for charging your devices

Learn more about charger safety

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Pugsley added: “The best way to know that your charger is designed for your device is to buy it directly from a trusted manufacturer. You should also take care not to overcharge your product. Turn off your charger and disconnect it once your item is fully charged.

“It’s also a good idea to register any appliances that you buy, especially white goods, as you’ll be informed if any issues with the product are identified. If your white goods start making a strange noise, don’t ignore it. If you think there’s a problem, always unplug it and contact the manufacturer or a qualified repair technician.”

We are supporting Electrical Safety First’s campaign to stop the sale of dangerous electrical appliances on online marketplaces.

Brigade’s electrical safety top tips:

  • Always make sure electrical appliances have a British or European safety mark before you buy them.
  • Always use a genuine charger that is right for your product. Chargers advertised as genuine on online shopping or auction sites may not always be authentic. They also might not have the right power output, potentially damaging your device and causing a fire.
  • Don't buy cheap counterfeit chargers for items that use lithium batteries.
  • Consider installing Electrical Safety First’s ‘check it out’ plug-in, to remind you when you are not buying directly from the manufacturer or retailer.
  • Register your white goods – it could save your life if a product is recalled for safety reasons.
  • Check that electrical appliances are clean and in good working order.
  • Never use a charger if it shows any signs of damage or appears to be not working properly.
  • Do not over charge your product - once your item is fully charged, disconnect it and turn the charger off.
  • Avoid storing, using or charging batteries at very high or low temperatures.
  • Protect batteries against being damaged – that's crushed, exposed to extremes of temperature, punctured or immersed in water.
  • Never cover your charger or the item you’re charging – chargers give off a small amount of heat which may build up if they are covered.
  • Try to keep to one plug per socket, especially for high-powered appliances like washing machines.
  • Always check that you’re using the right fuse – if you're confused, check out our guide to fuses.

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