As the temperature drops, people may be getting their electric blankets out ready for the winter.
However, many of these blankets could be an accident just waiting to happen, as a faulty or damaged blanket can start an electrical fire. Last year 870 of the 1,190 electric blankets that were tested across Northern Ireland were found to be unsafe.
Funding provided by the Electrical Safety Council (ESC) Fire Safety Fund has enabled Larne and neighbouring councils to hold additional electric blanket testing events to give more people the opportunity to check that their electric blankets are not dangerous.
Dates for the Larne borough are:
• Friday, October 14 - Larne Tourist Information Centre (028 2827 2313).
• Friday, October 28 - Glenlough Community Centre, Carnlough (028 2827 2313).
Between 10am and 4pm at each of the events a qualified electrician will check that your blanket is safe, free of charge. If you are unable to get to an event in person please call your local home safety officer beforehand, to arrange for your blanket to be taken to be tested. A range of useful information will also be available at the events including electrical safety, energy efficiency and home safety.
“Our primary objective at the ESC is to help people stay safe around electricity and, sadly, fires caused by faulty electric blankets are not uncommon”, adds Lorraine Carney, senior campaigns manager at the ESC.
“We are particularly keen to assist vulnerable people, such as the elderly, who may be reliant on electric blankets to keep them warm in the winter - so we are delighted to support Newtownabbey, Antrim, Carrickfergus and Larne Borough Councils with their initiative in this area.”
The ESC offers the following safety advice to ensure you use your electric blanket safely this winter:
• Check your electric blanket, plug and cord regularly for signs of wear or damage. Don’t use it if you can see scorch marks or exposed elements
• Never use an electric blanket if it is wet, creased or folded, and do not switch it on to dry it out
• Never use a hot water bottle and an electric blanket together in the same bed
• Make sure the electric blanket is unplugged if not in use. Some electric blankets are not designed to be washed - always check the manufacturer’s instructions
• If an electric blanket is more than 10 years old, consider buying a new one.
• Always buy new from a reputable retailer – second hand electric blankets may not be safe
• Always read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and follow them.
For further safety advice on electric blankets go to the ESC’s website www.esc.org.uk/public/ and click on ‘Guides and Advice’ where you can download a free ‘electric blanket safety’ leaflet, or telephone the consumer helpline on 0870 040 0561.