Updated February 25, 2014

5 Recalls College Students Need to Know

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College life is full of obstacles; you constantly have to navigate the perils of problem roommates, demanding professors and overdue tuition bills. What you don’t need is the threat of fires and amputated limbs.

In the world of recalls, that’s exactly what’s going on as CreditDonkey.com found in a recent review of notices by retailers taking back gear that initially seemed fitting for any dorm room or off-campus apartment dweller.

Whether you purchased the following products brand-new, got them second-hand from your family, or bought them at a yard sale, be aware of the five recalls college students should know about.

1. Google Chromebook Chargers

The growth of the netbook has been a big plus for a lot of college students. These devices tend to be cheaper, lighter, and a lot easier to carry than their heavier cousin, the laptop. If you’re one of the growing number of consumers who have crossed over to using a Chromebook, you should check which version you have. Anyone who has a Chromebook 11 needs a new charger.

Hazard: Google has recalled about 145,000 Chromebook chargers because they can overheat or even melt. The tech giant has heard from at least nine consumers who have experienced that situation - one which could start a fire, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. If you've got one, you're urged to stop using the charger immediately and contact Google to get a safer, new charger.

2. APC SurgeArrest Surge Protectors

If you’re like most college students, you have a lot of electronic gear. And assuming you’re smart – you’re in college after all – you’ve been relying on a surge protector to protect your precious netbook or laptop, your TV and your phone charger. Check the name of that protector, and you may find out it’s not quite a safety device.

Hazard: While it’s smart to have protection against a power surge, the safety net does you no good if your surge protector is a problem. Schneider Electric recalled about 15 million of them under the APC 7 and 8 and SurgeArrest brands because they can get dangerously hot. These surge protectors have been around for a long time, and you're most likely to have one if you grabbed one from home. More than 700 incidents have been reported, including some fires. Schneider will replace your recalled protector for free.

3. Portable Fan Heaters

Let's face it, dorm rooms can be small – and aren’t so great at keeping you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. That's why so many students get their own devices to help regulate the temperature rather than just freeze or melt as the outside temperature changes. So Home Depot's offering of a tiny fan that blows hot air seemed like the perfect dorm room solution.

Hazard: A great idea in theory isn't always one in practice. Nearly 500 Home Depot shoppers reported their Soleil fan heaters showed signs of melting, prompting a recall of about 107,000 of these fans. Rather than risk becoming another statistic, those who own one of these fans (they were sold between September 2012 and May 2013) are asked to bring them to a Home Depot store to get a full refund. Perhaps that money is better spent on, say, a warm blanket.

4. Card table and chairs

When you’re on a college-student budget, costly furniture is not going to happen. For your first off-campus apartment, a folding card table and some chairs will do the trick just fine. But you may have to look for another set if you bought a particular brand from Walmart.

Hazard: More than 73,000 Mainstays table and chair sets sold at Walmart were recently recalled because the chairs can collapse without warning. Several people have lost part or all of a finger in these chairs. If you've got this set, you're asked to stop using it and bring it back to a Walmart store for a refund.

5. Clip-on Desk Lamps

Clip-on desk lamps can be a college student’s best friend, especially if one’s roommate tends to go bed early. These lamps are targeted to the post-high school set with their cheap price – they cost only $20. If you inherited the wrong one, however, you could end up paying a higher amount from some serious damage. Lowe’s recalled LED clip-on desk lamps made by a Chinese manufacturer called He Shan Lide for a shocking risk.

Hazard: You take for granted the electricity is going to flow uninterrupted between your lights and the power source. Unfortunately, the cords of these lights, sold at Lowe’s in 2011, have a tendency to detach, leading to exposed wires that can cause a shock. One victim was even burned, according to the CPSC. If you have one, you're asked to cut the cord (when the lamp is unplugged), and check the recall announcement for details about where to mail it to get a full refund – including the cost of mailing the plug.

At CreditDonkey.com, we're all about being savvy consumers so we can share our experiences and tips with you. When you're away at college, you have so much to deal with, so we're looking out for you.

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