Millions of dangerous electrical appliances are lurking in people's homes. They have been recalled by the manufacturers, who are aware that they could give people shocks or cause fires, but because of the limited reach of the recalls, the majority of people never know they have a potential killer at home.
Electrical products make up around 8% of all recalls, and there are around 150 of them a year. In August, for example, Asda recalled 300,000 plastic toasters because of a possible electric shock risk, while in July Hotpoint recalled hundreds of thousands of dishwashers after an electrical fault caused 18 of them to catch fire, and in March Dyson recalled a million heaters over fears that a short circuit in the heaters could cause a small fire contained within the machine (although there had been no cases of injury or damage to property).
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Unfortunately, the recall system is far from perfect. If you have registered your product with the manufacturer, you will be contacted. However, if not, you are relying on the chance that you will see a recall notice.
The manufacturers will put a notice on their website, or may put a poster in stores. In some cases they pay for newspaper adverts encouraging people to get their appliances replaced or repaired. However, unless you happen to visit the right website or store, or buy the right newspaper on the right day. It's easy to see why up to 90% of recalled items are never taken back to the manufacturer.
What can you do?
You can check whether an item of yours has been recalled by looking on the Electrical Safety First recall website. The charity which runs the site says that since the start of 2011, 228 electrical products have been recalled - including seven types of fridge, four washing machines and seven hairdryers.
It has urged people to check the website for all their electrical appliances as soon as possible. It also says that the best way to protect yourself from products you buy in future is to register it with the manufacturer - which will give them an easy way to contact you if it is recalled. There should be a leaflet in the box with the item informing you how to do this. In addition, it's essential to keep an eye out for recalls, and check back with the site regularly as new recalls are added on a weekly basis.
Emma Apter, Electrical Safety First said: "We're working with manufacturers to improve the recall system but in the meantime we urge everyone to do anything they can to look after themselves, whether that's registering a product when you buy it or keeping an eye out for recall notices. We'd also encourage everyone to use our free online checker, to see if you have any recalled items in your home today."
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