Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) is urging everyone to keep loved ones safe this festive season by making sure all electrical gifts are bought and used responsibly.
Gadgets and electronic devices are a popular choice for Christmas wish lists, with rechargeable items such as phones, e-cigarettes, laptops, e-scooters and e-bikes, becoming more common in households.
But these types of items, which are usually powered by lithium-ion batteries, can pose a serious fire risk if not purchased from a trustworthy supplier or used correctly.
Graham Porter, a station manager at KFRS, said: “If the price tag is too good to be true, then it probably is, which is why it’s safer to always buy electrical devices and accessories, such as additional chargers, from a reputable retailer.
“Most rechargeable items are safe to use, but if they’re damaged or faulty then there’s a risk they could explode and cause a fire. So, it’s really important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, particularly on how to store, use or charge these types of gadgets.
“You can significantly reduce the risk of a fire by only charging items when you’re at home and awake, and unplugging them when they’re fully charged.”
Kent Trading Standards Operations Manager Jim Whiddett said: “We’re all facing the issue of the cost of living, and the festive season puts extra financial pressure on everyone. We can all be tempted to find a cheaper option for gifts and seasonal accessories.
“Purchasing from a reputable retailer reduces the risk of an issue and can provide you with a contact point to return any faulty product.”
Trading Standards recommends making some simple checks before purchasing electrical and battery items to make sure they meet necessary safety regulations, such as:
- The product should have a serial or batch number (required for the manufacture to recall the product if there is an issue)
- The packaging should have the details of the manufacturer or importer
- Plug-in electrical items must have a three-pin plug (the only exceptions being electric razors and toothbrushes) and plugs must have a fuse
- Does the product have instructions in English, and are they understandable?
Jim added: “If your product does not meet the requirements, then you should look for an alternative item that does have the required information. If you find a product that does not have the above information, then please contact the Citizens Advice consumer service and by reporting the issue you can help to keep dangerous products off the market.”