Is there a killer appliance lurking in your home?



An electricity safety watchdog has warned that millions of dangerous household appliance are lurking in homes around the UK: threatening the homes and lives of families. They say that the way that consumers are warned about dangerous appliances is so severely flawed that lives are being put in danger.

So do you have a deathtrap lurking at home?


The Electricity Safety Council has called for a complete overhaul in the way that recalls of unsafe appliances are carried out. In some instances there is just a note on a company website and a few advertisements - which cannot hope to reach every customer.

The ESC says that even where the process is completed adequately, there is often a delay before the recall is issued, which has resulted in a number of serious incidents involving recalled products.

In a typical recall only around 10-20% of the faulty appliances are ever returned. Given that over the last six years there have been 266 recall notices for electrical items, this means that millions of people in the UK are exposed to the risk of fire or electrocution.

The ESC has made a number of proposals: it wants to see Trading Standards set out guidelines for exactly what manufacturers need to do in the event of a recall. Emma Apter from the Electrical Safety Council said: "People are confused by the recall system – and it's not clear what level of action manufacturers are expected to take."

It is also calling for a centralised product registration system, which could help manufacturers trace their products to the consumer. At the moment only 5-10% of people fill in registration cards for new items because they are concerned about their information being used for marketing purposes. The ESC found that 50% of people would fill in the cards if they realised it was for safety reasons - and would be going to an independent third party rather than marketeers.

It also says that if manufacturers do not make enough of an effort to contact customers - or if they are too slow in doing it - there ought to be more severe penalties. Currently the maximum penalty is £5,000. The ESC says the penalty should be an absolute minimum of £5,000, and should be a percentage of the profit made on the recalled product. Apter added: "The current recall system is not effective enough, and without tougher penalties there is no incentive for manufacturers to act quickly and take the best corrective action possible."

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What can you do?

So do you have a deathtrap in your home? Given the incredible number of ongoing recalls, it's well worth checking.

The ESC has a list of products that are currently subject to a recall. It's worth checking it now, and bookmarking it to ensure you check it again on a regular basis to see if any of your products have been added to the list.

There are a number of popular brands listed on the site at the moment, including some fridge freezers and tumble dryers from Beko which are listed as a potential fire risk, some batches of a Hotpoint dishwasher which may pose a fire risk, and some Hoover fridge freezers, which can also cause fires.

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According to Which? The Beko fridge freezer has been responsible for 20 fires in London alone since 2008, in which one man lost his life.

Clearly something needs to be done to change the system, to protect property and lives. In the meantime it's essential you make the checks yourself to ensure your home is free from deathtraps.

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