Council offers free safety checks for electric blankets and heaters

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DONCASTER’S trading standards team has warned of the dangers of using worn out electric blankets and portable heaters as the weather gets colder.

Dave McMurdo, Chief Trading Standards Officer at Doncaster Council, said: “Electic blankets cause around 1,000 fires a year in the UK leading to numerous deaths and injuries, particularly among elderly people. It is essential to check that blankets are in good condition, and it is advisable to replace any which are over 10 years old as these cause the vast majority of fires.”

Portable heaters cause a further 700 fires each year, with particular dangers being worn cables and defective plugs

The Trading Standards team are planning a free event where residents can bring electric blankets and portable heaters to be tested. Anyone who would like their appliances tested should ring the team on 01302 737600 to register their interest.

The team has issued the following advice:

Electric blankets

Before you put your blanket on the bed this winter, check for these danger signs, if you find any of these problems replace the blanket or seek further advice:

· Check the Plug – it should not be damaged, the pins should be secure and wired correctly. No bare wire should be showing through the insulation. The fuse should only be of a 3 Amp rating (red in colour)

· Check the fabric of the blanket – it should be in good condition, do not use if there are any frayed or worn areas.

· Check for Scorching marks – do not use if there is any evidence of heat damage.

· Any Tie-tapes fitted should be intact and in-use – these stop the blanket from moving, folding or rucking while in use and avoid damage to the heating elements – Never use pins to keep blankets in place.

· The flex from the plug and controller should not be worn or damaged, if there are any signs of wear or damage do not use.

· Check the connector or cabling going into the blanket – if it is loose or not secure do not use, poor connections cause overheating.

Blankets over 10 years old will not comply with the latest safety standards, you should consider replacing them. Never buy a second hand blanket, you can never be sure of its history.

Always make sure you turn off the blanket before you get into bed unless it is designed to provide all night heat.

Potable heaters

Portable heating appliances use a lot of electricity and generate lots of heat. They should also be checked before use, especially if they have been stored away over the summer.

Clear any excess dust off the exterior of the appliance

Check the plug – make sure that it is intact, the wiring is secure and the correct fuse is fitted.

Check the flex – make sure it is in good condition and no bare wires or internal insulation is showing

Position the heater 3 feet or one metre away from curtains and furniture, ideally somewhere they can’t be knocked over.

Use fireguards to protect children or pets from coming into contact with the hot surfaces.

Never dry washing on or near a portable heater.

Appliances that cause discolouration to plugs or sockets are usually drawing too much electricity and should be discarded or checked. Wherever possible plug the heater in directly to the socket, never use an adaptor – an extension lead should only be used if it is of the correct current rating for the heater.