Exploding fairy lights are not the way anybody wants to greet the Christmas season – but that was the shocking welcome received by one householder when she plugged in her new decorations.
Croydon’s trading standards (TS) team is warning anybody that has bought one of these light chains to immediately stop using it and to contact the trader, who has issued a product recall.
The lights, usually selling for £12.99, are marketed as ‘10M 100 LED bulb globes balls LED fairy string lights lamp Christmas décor warm’.
The householder, who lives in Stockport, bought the lights after seeing them advertised, on Ebay, by Croydon-based UK Milliongadgets, now trading as UK Sozea. Within five minutes of plugging them in for the first time, the control box – used to select one of the chain’s eight display programs – exploded and blew the residual current device (RCD) in the electrical consumer unit of her house.
The RCD is a life-saving device designed to prevent a fatal electric shock if, for example, a bare wire is touched. It can also provide some protection against electrical fires. Most modern homes are protected by RCDs at the point of entry of the electricity supply.
TS officers visited the company’s Imperial Way warehouse and seized two samples of the light chains for testing to check for compliance with The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994, and The Plugs and Sockets Etc (Safety) Regulations 1994.
The results showed both samples failed all tests except one. In addition to not having the correct marking and instructions on the product or the packaging, the lights failed on construction and protection against electric shock. Suitable insulation was not provided, and the cover to the controller was easily removable without the use of a tool, giving access to live parts.
The tester concluded that the samples did not comply with safety regulations, and stated in his test report that the lights “could not be regarded as being safe and constructed in accordance with principles of good engineering practice”.
The light chain’s plug also failed the test as it was not a standard model complying with British Standard 1363.
Upon receiving the test results, the trader handed over the remaining stock of lights – 82 units – and set about contacting customers to recall sets already sold.
“These light chains are exactly the sort of cheaply and shoddily made goods which the safety standards are designed to protect the public from.
“To the untrained eye, these lights appeared to be acceptable, but the results show they failed virtually all the safety tests, and their use could have had potentially catastrophic consequences for the unsuspecting consumer.
“I’d urge anybody who may have bought these lights to get in touch with the trader and demand a full refund.”
Further advice can be obtained by calling the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506.
For information on RCDs, go to http://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/guides-and-advice/electrical-items/rcds-explained/