Counterfeit electrical products can overheat or cause short circuits, leading to fires, shocks, or explosions that can cause injury and produce considerable property damage in educational facilities. According to a report from the United States Fire Administration (USFA), an estimated 25 percent of all non-confined school building fires occur because of an electrical malfunction.
“It is critical that facility managers, electricians and maintenance professionals at educational institutions have a full understanding of the dangers posed by counterfeit electrical products because they deal directly with schools’ electrical devices,” said Tom Grace, brand protection manager with power protection company, Eaton. “This summer, we encourage those professionals to review the following checklist as part of the facility’s overall safety and maintenance plan.”
The following checklist is intended to assist professionals in detecting the presence of suspect products at their facilities and to provide resources to both authenticate products and report counterfeits.
- Examine your products: When purchasing an electronic product, check for certification marks from organizations that certify the quality and performance of electrical products. Be leery of additional markings or labeling not applied by the original manufacturers with missing or poor-quality labels, out-of-date product codes, and non-genuine packaging. As counterfeiters become more sophisticated, counterfeit products become even more difficult to detect this way, creating an increasing need for additional scrutiny.
Some manufacturers have online product registries that can confirm whether or not a product is authentic. For example, Eaton’s Circuit Breaker Authentication (CBA) tool gives customers the ability to verify the authenticity of Eaton molded-case circuit breakers (MCCBs), up to 400 amperes.
- Buy authentic: When buying new equipment for an educational facility, the best way to avoid purchasing a counterfeit product is to buy directly from the manufacturer or an authorized distributor. There is a higher risk of counterfeits if one cannot trace the path of commerce to the original manufacturer.
- Avoid “bargains”: Avoid bargains that seem too good to be true. Prices that are substantially lower than the manufacturer’s price should make any buyer suspicious of the product quality. Saving a few dollars is not worth exposure to the safety risks that accompany faulty products.
- Evaluate the condition of your products: It is also important to evaluate the condition of any new product and its packaging immediately upon delivery. Any product that appears to have been tampered with, is missing information, or is noticeably poorly made should raise a red flag. Professionals should also keep an eye out for out-of-date product codes and labels of poor quality.
- Report your counterfeits: If you have questions about the authenticity of your product, reach out to the manufacturer with your concerns. This will allow for authentication of the suspect product and ensure that the potentially unsafe product is removed from the market place.
Contact Eaton at email@example.com. If you cannot find brand contact information, contact the IPR Center who will disseminate the information for appropriate response. Contact the IPR Center at IPRCenter@dhs.gov or 1-866-IPR-2060.
For additional information about the dangers counterfeit electrical products, visit Eaton’s website.