Age Concern Central Lancashire is scrupulous about the safety of the items it sells to the public. Each electrical item with a mains plug is tested to see that it is wired correctly and is of a design robust enough to be sold second hand. This "PAT" (Portable Appliance Testing) is performed by trained volunteers with equipment provided and maintained by us.
Firstly is the need to look at the electrical label which informs us what the voltage of the appliance is as it determines what fuse rating is needed. It also states whether the item is double insulated (class 2) or not (class 1). The testing is slightly different for each and a good earth is needed for the class 1 items. The cord is also checked for nicks or tears. The plug is then opened to check the fuse and that the wires are connected correctly and neatly. If the fuse is too large for the stated wattage of the item it is changed to a lower rated fuse. The fuse's job is to blow to prevent the current getting to the user and electrocuting them. Although not required by law we also makes sure the item has a CE mark which shows it has been designed to European standards.
After testing with the PAT test box, if it passes the tester is encouraged to check that the item works. This can be difficult sometimes as you might need a lot of other things available to fully functionally test an item. For example a DVD player would need a TV and DVD disk available. A foot bath would need water, a pair of bare feet and half an hour relaxing! A sky box can be checked that it switches on, but with no satellite dish we can't prove it actually works. Also a set top box needs an aerial and signal amplifier as well as a TV. Keyboards are always fun to test to make sure all the keys work and the volume can go annoyingly high. Anyway it is always best to test as much as possible because we'd prefer people not to have to bring them back because they don't work.