Tips: Avoid Counterfeit Electrical Products This Holiday Season

THE Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) warns that counterfeit electrical products and decorations pose significant safety hazards. If left undetected, they can cause death, injury and substantial property loss this holiday season.

While some counterfeit products appear as excellent copies of the genuine product, many are substandard and fail to pass minimum safety tests. Often, counterfeiters use inferior materials and avoid key manufacturing steps to reduce the cost of their products, allowing them to be sold at prices no genuine brand manufacturer can match. For the unsuspecting consumer of this product, the risk of fire causing injury to person and property is substantially enhanced.

To help protect U.S. consumers, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has recalled more than one million counterfeit electrical products in recent years, such as circuit breakers that did not trip when overloaded, extension cords with wiring that overheated, and mobile phone batteries without the device to stop them from overcharging.

According to a recent ESFI study, 60 percent of Americans said they would not be able to distinguish a counterfeit electrical product from a genuine one. However, there are steps you can take to protect your family from the dangers of counterfeit holiday decorations and electrical appliances this year.

Tips to avoid counterfeit electrical products this holiday season:

  • Avoid no-name electrical products or products sold at "deep discount stores."
  • Check to see if the packaging contains contact information for the manufacturer. Reputable companies are proud of their product and will provide a phone number or address.
  • Examine the warning label. It should be free of grammatical errors and not conflict with information elsewhere on the package.
  • Buyers should beware of bargains that seem too good to be true. Products may be cheap because they are counterfeit or defective.
  • Only purchase electrical products directly from the manufacturer, a reputable distributor or retailer.
  • Look for the Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL), Canadian Standards Association (CSA) or Intertek (ETL-SEMKO) Certification marks. If you have concerns about the marks, contact the certifier.

ESFI reminds everyone that electricity is a powerful tool. It can also be a lethal hazard. Better safety standards have reduced electrical hazards that cause deaths, injuries and property damage. But good safety habits are still the best prevention against electrical hazards.

For more holiday electrical safety information, please visit ESFI at www.holidaysafety.org.

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