HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Lights out for a certain nightlight given out for free at local schools.
Some have started smoking, and one caught fire in a Midstate family’s home this week. Now the company that sent them out is warning people to stop using them.
PPL Electric Utilities sent about 30,000 energy efficiency kits in one form or another to schools and customers. The kits contain things like energy-efficient light bulbs and a shower head, and some include a small nightlight.
There have only been a handful of issues with those devices, but the company isn’t taking any chances.
The Upper Allen Township Fire Department on Wednesday checked out a home on Conway Drive after the homeowner said they smelled something burning.
Firefighters found a small nightlight that had caught fire, burning up the face of the device and scorching the wall and outlet. The homeowner said it was part of an energy efficiency kit PPL sent out for free.
The nightlights causing problems are flat and square-ish with a blue-green face that glows at a low intensity. PPL said Friday evening there have been at least eight reported problems, seven of them smoking plus that one catching fire.
None have caused injuries or serious damage, PPL said, but if you’ve gotten one since last June, unplug it.
The utility gave away thousands to students at more than 200 schools all across their coverage area, including about 60 Midstate schools. They sent about 5,000 of a different kind of kit to other customers who filled out forms to get the energy-efficient items for free.
“It came with some energy-efficient stuff for your kitchen sink, shower head,” David Hassell said.
The Paxtonia man got one of the boxes PPL mailed to customers who wanted them. His came with a different kind of nightlight, one with an arching piece of clear plastic illuminated by a small LED bulb at the base.
PPL said they haven’t heard about any problems with that kind of light. Still, Hassell’s not risking it.
“If there’s an issue with one,” he said, “how do we know there’s not an issue with the others? I’d rather be safe than sorry.”
PPL said it’s been sending out the kits for seven years and hasn’t had issues with nightlights before, even those similar to the ones experiencing problems now.
Only the more recent freebies, sent after June 2016, a company spokesman said, have been identified as those overheating to the point of smoking.
But the company said if you’re concerned about one you got before last June, go ahead and unplug it while they continue to investigate what’s causing the devices to start smoking.
“It’s not worth it over a nightlight to have your house burn down,” Hassell said.
PPL said they’ll be sending envelopes to affected families to send back the apparently defective devices.