Homes and work places across the East Riding are at risk because of the dangers caused by chargers for mobile phones, tablets and electronic cigarettes.
More than 50% of chargers sampled by East Riding Council’s trading standards officers proved to be unfit for sale.
After recently removing 55 chargers from sale, they bought a sample of 11 from mobile phone accessories shops, discount shops, market stalls and e-cigarette shops across the East Riding.
Independent tests showed three had critical safety failures and a further three had technical failures on the markings or instructions.
Councillor Jackie Cracknell, the council’s portfolio holder for community involvement and performance, said: “This is known to be a problem across the country but the message does not seem to be getting across to buy chargers with care.
“Even the sample the officers carried out showed a range of problems which could cause fire hazards or lead to users getting electric shocks.”
Colin Briggs, manager of the council’s trading standards services, said: “Some of the chargers were so cheap that it was ridiculous. One was just £2 so I don’t know how it could be made, shipped and sold at a profit for that price. The normal cost of branded one is between £15 and £20 so essentially you are getting what you are paying for.
“We are still carrying out our investigations as to where these failed chargers were made but it looks like they came from the Far East.
“We are urging bargain hunters to steer clear of cheap chargers and to only buy reputable brands that will meet the safety requirements. We also advise residents to avoid leaving chargers on overnight while they are asleep or leaving them plugged in unattended.”
The main faults found in unsafe chargers across the UK include inadequate insulation between the input and output circuits, leading to a risk of fire and electric shock. Other faults include components not properly secured or poorly soldered, incorrect size and positioning of live and neutral pins and a lack of proper instructions for use.
Advice from the council, and supported by Electrical Safety First, a UK charity dedicated to reducing deaths and injuries caused by electrical accidents, is to carry out a three point safety check:
- First, make sure there is at least the width of a ballpoint pen between the edge of the pins and the edge of the charger .
- Check the charger plugs easily into a socket. If pins do not fit properly into the socket, overheating, arcing and mechanical damage can occur to both the socket and the charger, which can be dangerous.
- Look for a manufacturer’s brand name or logo, model and batch number. Also look for a CE mark and make sure the output voltage and current ratings marked on the charger and your electrical device are the same.
To report a faulty charger or for further information, contact Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 040506 or online at http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/. Electrical Safety First’s website is http://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/