If you have a certain type of plug on a gadget, be warned

If you have a certain type of plug on a gadget, be warned (Picture: Getty)

Experts have issued an urgent warning over the telltale sign your bargain tech gadget could be potentially fatal.

It can be hard to resist a good deal online, especially for items that could cost tens – if not hundreds – of pounds more in shops or from official retailers.

However, manufacturers of cheap gadgets often cut corners.

One giveaway that a product is dangerous – and could be deadly – ​​is a ‘clover leaf’ plug.

Clover leaf plugs are smaller than standard plugs, with the plastic back of the plug only slightly bigger than the three pins at the front, creating a distinctive shape.

However, while they may look slick, the plugs pose two major risks.

Clover leaf plugs

Clover leaf plugs can cause electric shocks and fires (Pictures: ESF)

Firstly, the small size of the plug increases the risk of electric shocks, because the pins are so close to the edge, where people grip them when plugging devices in or out of a live socket.

Second, most clover leaf plugs do not contain a fuse, meaning it will not cut out in the event of a fault – potentially starting a fire.

The charity has found clover leaf plugs on a wide range of products, including hair dryers, straighteners and heaters. They have also been seen on chargers for e-bikes and e-scooters, two products that have caused a number of fatal fires in recent years due to substandard products available online.

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‘Your plug is the most obvious telltale sign as to whether your product is compliant and safe,’ says Giuseppe Capanna, product safety engineer at Electrical Safety First.

‘A gift you received or a bargain you might have bagged should be fused so that the device can cut out in the event of a fault. It should also have a distance of 9.5mm between the plug pins and the edge of the plug.

‘If the plug attached to your device is clover in shape such as the one in the image, stop using it immediately and return it.’

Clover leaf plug versus regular plug

Not all plugs are safe (Picture: ESF)

The charity also highlighted other red flags that a tech product may be substandard, warning shoppers to look out for spelling mistakes on packaging and manuals, saying ‘good manufacturers will pay attention to the small details and not make these mistakes’.

It also says to stop using any items that come with a foreign plug and travel adapter.

Clover leaf plug with no fuse

Clover leaf plugs are often missing a potentially life-saving fuse (Picture: ESF)

‘It’s a sign that the seller has not taken the time to comply with UK standards as all products sold into the UK market are required to come with a compliant UK plug,’ the charity warned.

Mr Capanna added: ‘We find these plugs more frequently when electronics are purchased via online marketplaces. They are substandard and illegal for sale in the UK.

‘The best way to protect yourself is to stick to reputable high street retailers.’

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