There is a great unseen danger to visitors from Europe on the high street. To the none technical person (and even to some with technical knowledge this is not easy to spot, but under the right circumstances can kill.The electrical plugs from Europe are different to the uk we have 13 amp square pin with a fuse inside,the Europeans have a large & small 2 pin type without fuses inside. the smaller 2 pin type do not need an earth connection but the larger 16 amp 2 pin do. The earth is unlike our 13 amp plugs with the larger third pin they have the earth by contacts on the sides of the plug & in some countries by a pin coming out of the socket making contact with a hole in the plug where we have our third larger pin.

On sale in high streets all around the country in many shops including supermarkets in tourist areas.Are plug adapters for tourists & others wanting to plug in appliances bought in Europe. There is no problem using these for the smaller 2 pin appliances such as shavers apart from the fact that are no fuses in some of the adapters which could become a fire hazard. This is a danger in it self but not the main point of me writing this.The danger in question is the fact that most of the adapters' DO NOT allow for connection of the Earthing contact of the European plug to the earth (ground) of the uk mains as only the two pins are connected without the contacts on the side of the plug able to connect.

 none Earthed adapters on saleIf the appliance becomes faulty Instead of the current going to earth & blowing the fuse in the adapter (If there is one) The metalwork on the appliance will become live to the touch without any warning as the appliance will still be working, & depending on circumstances If the person using the appliance touches an earthed metal surface or another appliance which is correctly earthed they will receive a strong electric shock which could burn or kill them or at least cause them to drop whatever they were holding ( kettle full of hot water) or be thrown back hitting their head or causing other injury to themselves or others nearby.

With un-fused adapters apart from the dangers pointed out as the power will only be fused at the consumer unit (fuse box/breaker box) at 30 amp instead of 13 amp. As some of the
European appliances work up to 16 amp with no plug fuse, only fuse in fuse box.Even if the person does not get an immediate shock if the appliance is working unattended there is a very grave risk of it catching fire as whatever created the short circuit to earth would be drawing current in excess of that intended.

correct Earthed adapter with Earthed plugSome of the adapters' on sale do have written on them in small print & in some cases on the packaging "do not use on appliances which should be earthed" or words to that effect & some not to be used in uk.This of course only covers the manufacture but is totally useless to the person that comes from Europe, technical or not that does not understand or read English who even if they did would not realise what the dangers were if they could read it. I made a phone call about this problem to the (London) Westminster trading standards a couple of months ago after seeing some of these units on sale in a large chain store, I was informed that I could not complain unless I was a Westminster resident...

If you are not clear about any of the above or have any doubts please show to a qualified person There are many more aspects to this that cannot be put into lay terms.

Attached pictures of some of ones that I am pointing out on sale & picture of European (Shuko) plug and correct type of adapter they should be used with.

ron angel
Design Eng electronics