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20
November
2013
|
11:26
Europe/London

Quarter of electric blankets failed safety checks

Oxfordshire County Council's Fire and Rescue Service and its Trading Standards team were involved in a series of free test sessions last month which found that 191 out of 806 electric blankets tested failed safety checks.

The proportion - around 24% - was the lowest failure rate in the 15 years that the electric blanket testing campaign has been in operation in the county.

Continue to follow guidance

But Stuart Garner, Oxfordshire County Council's Fire and Rescue Service's Home and Community Safety Manager, stressed the importance of having a properly-functioning electric blanket.

"Whilst it is really good news that we have seen the lowest failure rate in the history of the campaign, it is vitally important for people to follow guidance to help them ensure that their electric blankets are fit for use," he said.

"The more faulty blankets we can identify and remove means that the number of potential house fires caused by them will go down.

"Those that are unfit for use can also cause injuries such as electrical burns. People can check their electric blankets for wear and tear and they should discard them if they display unsafe features, such as frayed wiring; an over worn surface or broken power lead fasteners."

The testing campaign, also supported by Cherwell District Council, West Oxfordshire District Council, Age UK Oxfordshire, Green Square, the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group and Witney Rotary Club, is part of the county council's 365alive scheme, which looks to create a safer community via education and preventative measures.

How safe is your electric blanket?

Electric blankets can be perfectly safe to use provided they are in good condition and have the necessary overheating safeguards incorporated into the design.

Tell-tell signs that an electric blanket is passed its use-by date include scorch marks; loose connections or damage to the flex. Loose elements within the blanket or signs that they are crossed over or touching also are indicators that a blanket should be replaced.

People should never buy second hand blankets and should follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Councillor Louise Chapman, Oxfordshire County Council's Cabinet Member for Policy Co-ordination, said: "Electric blankets are still used by a significant number of people and clearly it is important that they are safe to use to help avoid potential injury or fire.

"By following a few simple guidelines people can protect themselves from the possible consequences of using an unsafe electric blanket."

Why do electric blankets fail tests?

  • The elements were able to move around inside the blanket with the potential to rub together and cause an electrical short circuit
  • Elements were not secured within the blanket and exposed to the surface
  • Power lead fasteners were broken
  • The surface of the blanket was worn, exposing the elements.

Safety tips

  • Make sure that under-blankets are secured to the bed by using the supplied safety ties as this will ensure that the blanket doesn’t move and damage the elements
  • When the blanket is not in use, they should be stored flatly, or if it must be folded, it should be ensured that they are not folded too tightly
  • Hot water bottles should not be used at the same time and blankets should not be used if they are damp or wet

 

How many blankets failed safety tests in previous years?

Year Blankets tested Blankets failed % failures

1999

913

346

38

2000

805

378

47

2001

793

325

41

2002

951

338

36

2003

846

333

39

2004

708

225

32

2005

689

239

35

2006

789

315

40

2007

678

241

36

2008

827

243

29

2009

1040

357

34

2010

815

321

39

2011

911

332

36

2012

903

314

35

2013

806

191

24

 

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