Wednesday 17 April 2024
7.2 C
Nottingham

More than two thirds of electric blankets have potential to cause deadly house fires

In 2022/23, electric blankets caused three fires in Nottinghamshire, which sadly resulted in two fatalities, and over two thirds (69%) of electric blankets were found to be unsafe at recent testing events across Nottinghamshire, including one blanket that was 43 years old.

Residents across the county were offered the free safety tests as part of a winter safety and cost of living initiative hosted by Nottinghamshire County Council’s Trading Standards team and Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service.

All the blankets that failed safety tests were exchanged for free, for new electric blankets that meet current safety standards.

The unsafe blankets failed testing for a variety of reasons, including their age, worn fabric, faulty controllers, scorch marks from overheating, dangerous wiring, and damaged heating elements.

Many of the blankets that were brought in for testing had un-sleeved plugs, which means they were at least 36 years old, as it has been a legal requirement since 1987 for all plugs supplied to be sleeved.

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Worryingly, one of the blankets that was found to be unsafe was just a year old. The owner had purchased it from an online selling platform.

The plug that was attached to it did not comply with UK laws and the blanket had prominent scorch marks on it, however the owner had been unaware of these and was shocked to discover she had been sleeping on a dangerous blanket.

Councillor Scott Carlton, Cabinet Member for Communities and Public Health at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “We know electric blankets are a popular way for people to keep warm at night in the winter months, however they have the potential to cause deadly housefires if they become damaged through wear and tear.

“It is alarming to hear that so many unsafe blankets were being used across the county, so I am relieved we were able to replace them and keep their owners safe. It is not worth the risk of using an older blanket which may be unsafe, so we encourage people to get them checked regularly and buy a new one after ten years of use.”

Dan Palmer, Prevention Group Manager at Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Electric blankets can be a great, cost-effective way to keep warm and cosy, especially during the colder months, but this doesn’t shy away from the fact that they can become a fire hazard within the home very quickly.

“We have recently attended fires that have been caused by a fault in an electric blanket, with one fire in Mansfield leaving the occupier with minor burns.

“Before using your electric blanket, we ask that you take a few minutes to check it is safe to be used. You should replace your blanket if there is any damage to the wires, or they are poking through the fabric. Always unplug your blanket before you get into bed, and store them flat, rolled up or loosely folded to prevent damage. Finally, always replace your blanket every 10 years.

“Thank you to Nottinghamshire County Council for working in partnership with us on this initiative – hopefully our efforts will continue to create safer communities around Nottinghamshire.”

The County Council’s Trading Standards team is now working with care agencies across Nottinghamshire to offer their staff training in electric blanket safety, so they can look out for potential issues in the blankets their patients use.

Further safety testing events for residents will also be run across Nottinghamshire later in 2024.

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