NSW: Public safety warning – electric hot water bottles

Published: 
15 Apr 2014

NSW Fair Trading Minister Stuart Ayres today announced a statewide prohibition by Fair Trading on the sale of electric hot water bottles, also known as electric heat packs, due to the risk of death or injury from electric shock.

Mr Ayres said the products are designed to be connected to electric power to heat up liquids contained within the bladder of the bottle with the aid of electrodes.

“The flexible heating pad design is emerging technology and no relevant Australian/New Zealand standard fully captures its design and use. Electric hot water bottles do not comply with the relevant standard of essential safety requirements of AS/NZS 60335.1 clause 22.33,” he said.

Mr Ayres said Fair Trading identified four serious safety concerns with the flexible heating pad:

  1. Exposed electrodes heat the internal liquid and this can conduct an electric current from the electrodes to a user via indirect contact through the outer bladder.
  2. Currently the design of the flexible heating pad allows the use of the pad while it is being charged, increasing the risk of electric shock.
  3. The bladder is all that insulates a user from the inner electrodes and the integrity of the bladder can be compromised by puncture, splitting or over-pressure caused by internal electrical fault, degradation or external forces.
  4. The standard prohibits an enclosure shaped or decorated like a toy and some of these products feature child appealing designs in the form of animal characters.

Mr Ayres said Havenhall Pty Ltd holds 80 per cent of the Australian market in flexible heating pads and they had agreed to stop selling them and remove them from the marketplace.

“Recent Fair Trading surveillance in stores and online, especially online auctions, has however revealed continued sale of several variants of the non-compliant pads. Sales are occurring primarily at pharmaceutical stores and online and of serious concern is the discovery of imported models that appear inferior to models in stores,” Mr Ayres said.

“I urge consumers to avoid these products at all cost. As the weather cools down the risk from unapproved electric winter warmers heats up. People may be tempted to buy them because they are a new and different product and many appear attractive to children but they are potential killers.”

Fair Trading has explored design changes to render the products safe but stringent testing is required to meet essential safety requirements, so the agency has also served a notice on Havenhall Pty Ltd to prove the safety of its products. The company has indicated it will produce a new type of flexible heating product to replace the non-compliant product.

All electrical goods sold in NSW must meet the requirements of the Electricity (Consumer Safety) Act 2004 and Regulation. All electrical articles are required to be safe to use. It is an offence to sell unsafe electrical articles. The maximum penalty for selling, importing, hiring or exchanging unmarked or unapproved electrical goods is $82,500 and/or two years imprisonment for an individual or $825,000 for a corporation.

To check electrical approval marks go to Fair Trading website.

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Electric hot water bottles

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