Thirteen fires per day caused by faulty and recalled electrical goods

02 February 2018

Last year, 4,732[1] fires were caused by faulty electrical appliances, including recalled items, the equivalent of thirteen fires per day across the UK[2]. Faulty goods were responsible for twenty per cent of all electrical house fires[3], causing hundreds of casualties and in some cases death. Despite this, new research from Electrical Safety First shows that three in ten British consumers are willing to put themselves in danger by continuing to use a product they know has been recalled for safety reasons[4]

This study follows the UK Government’s launch of a new product safety office, tasked with researching how best to encourage consumers to respond to recall notices and drive up the number of people registering appliances with manufacturers.

If an electrical appliance has been registered, the manufacturer can contact its owner if the product needs to be recalled. However, new figures show that only 24% of consumers always register their electrical appliances[5]. The top three reasons people give for not registering include “It’s too much hassle,”, “I meant to but I forgot” and “I didn’t think it would have any benefits”[6].  

Forgetting might not be the only explanation for low registration levels. Many people don’t understand why manufacturers ask them to register their appliances. Almost two thirds of people think it’s so they can be sent marketing messages to promote other products[7].

Electrical Safety First is urging consumers to protect themselves from the huge risks of fire, electrical shock or even death that faulty appliances can present, by always registering their products so that manufacturers can contact them if there is a problem.

The Charity also recommends that the UK Government establishes a centrally managed product recall database, which would allow consumers to check that the appliances they are using are safe.  Since 2007, there have been 516 recall notices issued for electrical goods in the UK[8]. Given that only 10-20% of faulty goods are ever returned or repaired, there are potentially millions of dangerous appliances still in people’s homes[9].  

To help make white goods safer, Electrical Safety First has been working with the London Fire Brigade to develop a new ‘voluntary mark’ to be used by manufacturers of fridges and freezers to demonstrate that they have been made from fire-resistant materials.  Refrigerators with flammable plastic backs are a serious safety concern and can cause large, rapidly developing fires.            

Selena Hall from London understands the devastating consequences of living with a faulty appliance after her Candy tumble dryer burst into flames last month.

“I heard a loud bang, which I thought was my daughter, and then I started to smell smoke. I ran downstairs and saw flames in the bottom of the tumble dryer. I was terrified.”

Selena says the fire service was there within ten minutes but by that time the flames had grown rapidly.

“As a plumber I knew not to throw water on the flames, but how many people know that? I think there needs to be more awareness about the dangers of tumble dryers. I took good care of the machine and regularly cleaned the filters, so I can’t understand why this happened.”

“I have never felt so scared, so vulnerable and useless. It was a terrible experience and could have been so much worse. It could have happened while my daughter and I were both sleeping – we could have died from the toxic fumes. I’m so grateful the fire fighters arrived as quickly as they did and were able to save our home, lives and cats.”

Phil Buckle, Chief Executive at Electrical Safety First commented:

“We regularly hear of fires, some of them fatal, which have been caused by faulty electrical appliances. We’re urging people to protect themselves from these risks by always registering their products. It only takes a few minutes, and will give you and your family peace of mind that you will be notified if a dangerous product is in your home.”

“Electrical Safety First fully supports the new Office for Product Safety and Standards and would like to work with them on ensuring that the UK’s product safety system works as effectively as possible. We strongly recommend that a centrally managed product recall database is established, which would allow consumers to check that the appliances they are using are safe. There is a lot more to be done to tackle the threat posed by dangerous electrical goods and we urge the new office to work in the best interests of consumers.”

To check if an electrical item has been recalled visit: electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/recall 

and to register an appliance, visit: www.registermyappliance.org.uk/

 

Ends

Case study images and videos are available to download here.

For more information please contact:

Sophia Alipour T: 07866 702069 E: sophia.alipour@electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk

Editors’ Notes

  • Electrical Safety First is a UK Charity dedicated to reducing and preventing damage, injuries and death caused by electricity. More information can be found at http://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk  
  • Ipsos MORI research was conducted between the following dates: Friday 1 and Monday 11 December 2017. Research was carried on behalf of Electrical Safety First through interviews with a sample of 1,981 adults in Great Britain aged 15+. All interviews were carried out face-to-face in participants’ homes. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all adults in Great Britain aged 15+.
  • All other consumer research, unless otherwise stated, was undertaken from 12 to 15 January 2018 by Censuswide with a sample of 2,000 general consumers.  The figures are representative of all UK adults.

Why should I register my product?

  • Registering your product makes it possible for the manufacturer to easily get in touch with you if it turns out that the item you’ve bought is somehow faulty or dangerous.
  • Typically only 10-20% of these recalled products are actually returned and/or repaired. This is largely down to the fact that the manufacturer often has no way of directly contacting those who purchased the item in question. Consequently, each year, millions of potentially unsafe appliances remain in use, putting their owners at risk of electrical shocks, fires or even death.

How do I register my product?

Registering a product is easy and only takes a few minutes. There are two ways in which you can register:

  • Follow instructions supplied with product
    Details on how to register your appliance can be found alongside the product’s instructions for how to operate and maintain it.
  • Register online at the “Register My Appliance” website
    Alternatively, visit www.registermy appliance.org.uk, which links to all the major electronics manufacturers. This way, even if you’ve had the item for a while and have long since lost the associated paperwork, it is still possible for you to register it.

In order to register your product, you’ll usually need:

  1. The brand name
  2. The model (usually either a name or a number)
  3. The serial number
  4. The date of purchase (or as near to it as you can remember)

References


[1] 4,732 accidental domestic fires caused by faulty appliances and leads where the source of ignition was electric.
England: Home Office Fire Statistics on incidents attended by Fire and Rescue Services. Figures from financial year 2016/17. Accessible at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/fire-statistics-data-tables#incident-level-datasets.
Wales: StatsWales statistics on incidents attended by Fire and Rescue Services. Figures from financial year 2016/17. Accessible at:https://statswales.gov.wales/Catalogue/Community-Safety-and-Social-Inclusion/Community-Safety/Fire-Incidents/Fires-and-False-Alarms/accidentalprimaryfires-by-cause-sourceignition
Scotland: Freedom of Information request sent to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, June 2016.

[2] 4,732 fires is the equivalent of 12.96 fires per day

[3] Based on 23,186 accidental domestic fires where the source of ignition was electric, 2016/17.

[4] Ipsos Mori, 2017, 69% of consumers would stop using a product immediately after it had been recalled.

[5] Ipsos MORI, 2017, 24% of GB adults always register their electrical appliances.

[6] Ipsos Mori, 2017

[7] Censuswide, January 2018

[8] Electrical Safety First Product Recall Checker: http://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/product-recalls/

[9] Electrical Safety First, 2014, Product Recall Report, Retrieved from: http://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/mediafile/100205681/Product-Recall-Report-2014.pdf