Households urged to check if their Christmas gift is a fire risk by checking its plug

08 January 2024

  • Experts urge UK public to check for ‘clover leaf’ shaped plug that can cause fire or electric shock
  • Fears online sellers have exploited cash strapped households this Christmas and sold them substandard electronics
  • Public encouraged to #postyourplug to reveal dangerous clover leaf plugs lurking in people’s homes

Millions of households are being urged to stop using their Christmas gifts immediately if it comes with a specific plug, rendering it substandard and a potential fire risk.  

With more than half of the public having done their Christmas shopping for electronics via online marketplaces, leading charity Electrical Safety First is concerned that dangerous gifts will unknowingly be being used by households up and down the country.

Whilst it is difficult to tell if you have a dangerous product in your home, the charity is urging people to check their plug for one obvious sign that is it not safe for use.

“If the Christmas gadget you received this year came with what we call a clover leaf-shaped plug, stop using it immediately,” Giuseppe Capanna, Product Safety Engineer at Electrical Safety First, warns.

Clover leaf plugs are small in their size, not meeting the legal requirements of a plug to be sold in the UK and are frequently found to be missing a fuse, risking a potential fire.

The charity has previously found these types of plugs on a variety of popular electrical products including hair dryers, e-bike and e-scooter chargers, hair straighteners and more.

Caption: A heater with a clover leaf plug previously found for sale. Credit: Electrical Safety First

Images released by the charity demonstrate just how small and unusual in shape these plugs are.

Plug pins on the device are too close to the edges of the plug mold, risking the user coming into contact with them when inserting or removing, from a mains socket, risking electric shock.



A lack of a visible fuse also presents a potential fire risk, with images from a previous investigation by Electrical Safety First revealing no fuse inside the device when it was opened up.

Caption: A clover leaf plug previously found for sale online by Electrical Safety First. When opened the plug contained no fuse, presenting a risk of fire Credit: Electrical Safety First

“Your plug is the most obvious tell-tale sign as to whether your product is compliant and safe,” Giuseppe Capanna explains. “A gift you received or a bargain you might have bagged should be fused so that the device can cut out in the event of a fault. It should also have a distance of 9.5mm between the plug pins and the edge of the plug. If the plug attached to your device is clover in shape such as the one in the image, stop using it immediately and return it.”

The charity is encouraging the public to #postyourplug in order to identify more of these dangerous clover leaf-shaped plugs households may have accidentally received over the Christmas period and January sales.

“We  find these plugs more frequently when electronics are purchased via online marketplaces,” Giuseppe Capanna adds. “They are  substandard and illegal for sale in the UK. The best way to protect yourself is to stick to reputable high street retailers.”

How to identify if your Christmas or sales gadget is substandard:

  • Check the plug: if your item comes with a clover leaf shaped plug, stop using it immediately.
  • Ensure your plug has a fuse so that it can cut out in the event of a fault.
  • Look out for spelling mistakes on packaging and manuals, good manufacturers will pay attention to the small details and not make these mistakes.
  • If your gadget comes with a foreign plug and a travel adaptor don’t use it, it’s a sign that the seller has not taken the time to comply with UK standards as all products sold into the UK market are required to come with a compliant UK plug.