Warning Over Imported Fairy Lights

Following a fire in a home in Weymouth, Dorset County Council trading standards officers are warning people to take care when buying electrical products online.

A Weymouth resident purchased some Christmas tree lights from a supplier in Hong Kong which, when plugged in, burst into flames.

The tree and nearby curtains caught fire, and smoke filled the flat.

The fire was brought under control very quickly, but the residents were lucky to escape with no injuries.

Richard Herringshaw, principal trading standards officer, said:

"People should take extra care when buying direct from suppliers outside the European Union. What can look like a bargain may turn out to be a dangerous and expensive mistake.

"Businesses in the UK and the EU have to ensure that the products they import are safe.

"We would like to remind people that if there is a problem with such a purchase, they may not be able to recover any money from the seller.

"The lights arrived in a clear plastic bag, fitted with a UK plug, but had no instructions included.

"Upon closer investigation serious concerns were identified with the product.

"Though there was a CE mark present the controls had an easily removable panel, giving easy access to potentially dangerous live parts. The cable was poorly constructed, bringing a risk of electrocution or a fire.

"To ensure products you are buying meet the necessary safety standards it's advisable to make online purchases from UK or EU suppliers. That way you can be confident that the item will be safe and, if there is a problem, you can get a refund on faulty goods."

Consumers who believe they have bought an unsafe product from a business should contact Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06 to report the problem and get some free advice.