There have been seven different types of fridge, four types of washing machine, seven types of hairdryer, 25 lighting products and 72 different chargers and adaptors - and these are just some of the 228 electrical products that have been recalled by manufacturers in the past four years, with faults that include a risk of fire or electric shock.
In total, they may make up more than 4 million individual products that have been sold before later being recalled. And the most worrying aspect? Many of these products are still in our homes - typically only 10% to 20% of recalled products are ever returned or repaired. You can find out more here.
There are many reasons why the recall system is not working, but a report our Charity published this week identifies that we can all help in improving it. Whilst we are working with manufacturers to improve the way they manage and communicate recalls, we also want to get the message to the public - that's all of us - that recalls can be serious and need to be acted on.
Our research identified that 2.6 million UK adults have knowingly ignored a recall notice. Underestimating the risks posed by recalled products is a major factor in this. Many people surveyed by Electrical Safety First said they associated recalls with 'annoying faults' rather than safety. In London alone, a faulty electrical product causes a household fire almost every day, and many of these may have been subject to a recall. And across the UK, more than 350,000 people suffer a serious electrical accident or injury each year in the home, so keeping electrical items that have been recalled is really not worth the risk.
I'd also like to stress that whilst there have been a number of high profile fires involving kitchen 'white goods' in the past year, smaller items can also pose a risk. We found that a fifth of us would be more likely to respond to a recall of a large product than a small product, yet the items most reported as faulty or dangerous are smaller ones such as chargers, hairdryers, toasters and kettles.
Another barrier to successful recalls is that manufacturers simply don't know where some of the products are - only a third of us register our electrical products when we buy them, which is crucial when manufacturers need to trace products. Our research found that fears about marketing are a major barrier to registration - 61% of the 4,000 adults we surveyed said they would be more likely to register if they were assured their information would not then be used for marketing purposes. Whilst we are now working to urge manufacturers to act on these concerns, we also want to ask that everyone does register and 'opt out' of receiving further marketing information if this concerns you.
We will continue to work with manufacturers to ensure the system is improved, for your safety. But today, we are asking you to do three things:
1. Check: Ensure the safety of all your electrical appliances using our free online product checker. Just enter the model number, brand name or description of your product to see if your product has been recalled. If it has, you will be then advised on next steps. Go to www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/recall
2. Register: Whenever you buy an electrical item, the first thing you should do is to register it with the manufacturer as this is the easiest way for them to contact you should there be a problem. Don't be put off by marketing or the fear that your details will be shared with third parties as it's easy to opt out of this.
3. React: Keep an eye out for recall notices and act on them straight away. Manufacturers try and reach their customers in a number of ways, including posters in shops, adverts in newspapers, emails and letters, and on social media.
For more information, go to www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/recall