Electric blanket safety checks carried out by Northumberland County Council’s Public Protection Service have helped to avoid a potential fatality.
Once again, these free safety checks were very popular with older residents.
A Trading Standards survey found 67% (153) of 228 electric blankets tested in the west of Northumberland suffered from safety flaws or exceeded reasonable safety guidelines, making them potentially fatal.
One resident brought in four blankets tested and all four failed. One blanket’s wires had deteriorated causing a spark through the blanket which could have led to a fire. Another resident brought in a 40-year-old electric blanket which failed the safety tests.
The checks were carried out during September at venues in the west of the county in Hexham, Ponteland, Prudhoe, Allendale, Bellingham and Haltwhistle by a specialist engineer. The joint initiative was organised by Northumberland’s Trading Standards Service, Age UK Northumberland and the Fire & Rescue Service. The events were also attended by the Northumberland Handyperson Service.
Jimmy Power, business and consumer protection manager, said: “As soon as the colder weather arrives, out come the electric blankets that have been stored away and switched back on without a check to see if the electrical wires are still intact. To know that we have been able to protect at least one Northumberland pensioner from serious or life threatening injuries means the events’ worth cannot be measured."
Councillor Anita Romer, executive member for health and public protection at Northumberland County Council said: “This year we had a significant number of old electric blankets brought in for testing. These can be deadly and should be replaced at least every 10 years. It is never worth putting your life at risk for the cost of an electric blanket. Our advice to people is that, if they are in any doubt about the condition of their blanket, then they should bin it and replace it, and you should never buy one that’s second hand.”
Anne Robinson from Age UK Northumberland said: “These checks have potentially prevented 153 fires or injuries and, whilst that is good news, it is still a concern that so many unsafe blankets would have been used this winter. We fully endorse the advice to replace them every 10 years or as soon as they show any signs of wear or scorching.”