A forty year old electric blanket that was still in use was one of 85 electric blankets that failed safety tests carried out by Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards.
Trading Standards Officers tested 259 electric blankets belonging to older people living across Warwickshire and found that 85 or 33% failed tests.
Warwickshire County Councillor John Horner, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety said: “We know that faulty electric blankets are a contributory factor in many house fires each year. I’m delighted that this annual safety campaign continues to be popular with Warwickshire residents.”
Safety tests revealed that many of the electric blankets failed because of faults to switches or damage to internal wiring. Some had been the subject of a product recall by the manufacture that the owner was not aware of and some were simply too old.
Electric blankets that are more than 10 years old carry an increased fire risk because as they age, the unseen wiring within them will begin to deteriorate. Some that are very old, such as the forty year old blanket, may also lack overheat protection, built in to modern blankets to stop them from overheating if a fault occurs.
Trading Standards Officers were also able to provide 150 older people visiting the testing stations with personal safety packs containing advice on scams and doorstep rogue traders. Representatives of Age UK and Act on Energy also attended to offer older people information and advice on benefits and energy efficiency.
Warwickshire County Councillor Philip Johnson, Chair of the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, added: “Warwickshire Trading Standards remains committed to helping to ensure that unsafe products are not being used in the home, and elderly and vulnerable people are protected.”
Residents from across Warwickshire brought their electric blankets in to one of five testing stations located across the County. Trading Standards also ran a group collection service for those unable to attend the testing stations in person.
There were a range of reasons for blanket failures:
• Some blankets were very old. Consumers should consider replacing their electric blanket if it is more than ten years old. Old electric blankets, even if they are still working carry an increased fire hazard risk because as blankets age, the unseen wiring within them will deteriorate. Some very old electric blankets will not have over heat protection, designed to stop them overheating and catching fire if a fault occurs.
• A few relatively new electric blankets had been the subject of product recalls by the manufacturer. In these cases the blanket was failed and the consumer was advised to return the electric blanket to the retailer to be rectified. To check an electric blanket or other electrical item against product recall lists, please visit: www.esc.org.uk/recall
• Some electric blankets failed because of faults to switches or damage to internal wiring. Electric blankets do degrade over time due to constant use and wear and tear, but consumers can prolong the life of their electric blanket by following the instructions for use and storage.
The electric blanket testing campaign has now finished but owners can check the safety of their own electric blankets by looking for the following warning signs:
• the fabric is worn or frayed
• there are scorch marks anywhere
• the tie tapes are damaged or missing
• the flex is worn or damaged
• any connections are loose
Remember older blankets in regular use are much more likely to have one or more of the above faults. If your electric blanket is more than 10 years old, industry guidelines suggest you should replace it. An old BEAB safety mark (a round symbol) is an indication that the blanket is more than ten years old.
For more information visit: http://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/electricblanket