The tragic deaths of seven Jewish family members in a Brooklyn house fire may have saved the lives of London Jews, after the pre-Pesach hotplate safety check it prompted found four in 10 were unsafe.
A malfunctioning Shabbat hotplate believed to be the cause of the New York inferno last month provided the impetus to free inspections organised last week in Golders Green, Edgware, Borehamwood and Chigwell, with alarming results.
More than 800 families brought a total of 1,150 hotplates, but registered electricians were shocked to declare 425 of them “unfit for use,” in what organisers said was a “staggering” statistic.
Inspections revealed frayed wiring, melted insulation, burnt or singed wiring, broken electrics, broken plugs, incorrect fuses, melted plastic electrics housing and missing earth wires.
“We saw dozens of accidents waiting to happen,” said British Friends of ZAKA director David Rose. “They could easily have led to tragic results.”
The organisation now plans to extend its service outside London, as electricians urged families only to use the latest models of hotplates, in which the electrics are housed either inside the case or in an attached metal case.
“Nine times out of 10, common sense will tell you if an electrical item is safe to be used,” said James Harari from British Friends of ZAKA. “Don’t take any chances.”