80pc of electric fans dangerous, test shows

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 March, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 March, 1999, 12:00am

More than 80 per cent of electric fans are dangerously defective and could cause fire or electrocution, the Consumer Council warned yesterday.

Vice-chairman of the council's publicity and community relations committee Michael Tsui Fuk-sun said only five out of 28 fans passed a safety test.

The Government has been given a list of dangerous fans and urged to consider banning their sale and prosecuting the suppliers.

Last summer, electric fans were blamed for at least 11 fires which injured scores of people and caused extensive property damage.

'Fortunately no one was killed, but one seven-year-old girl and an elderly woman were seriously injured,' Dr Tsui said.

The fans linked to fires had been thought to be cheap models with obscure brand names.

But the cheapest fan, at $88, was one of the few to be declared safe following a test against international standards, and the most expensive, costing $640, was not.

The five deemed safe were the Airwave, Canny and MD desk fans, the Philips slide or pedestal fan and the Hitachi wall fan.

Problems with the others included live parts being so close that short circuit was a risk, or they were not properly earthed, so users were at risk of electric shock.

Motors in some fans were at risk of overheating and causing a fire.

'We have referred the ones that do not comply with the standards to the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department,' Dr Tsui said.

'If they feel there's a case for them to press charges against the suppliers of these products, then hopefully the consumer will benefit.' Dr Tsui said all fans should be checked regularly for signs of overheating and used only in ventilated areas.

He said it was unlikely that owners of fans found to have failed the safety test would be given a refund from retailers.

'We can't give blanket advice to throw away those fans, but for your safety, you should stop using them or check them regularly as to whether there's any problem with them, such as overheating,' he said.