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Electric blanket tests could save lives 26 September 2008

Electric blanket testingUSERS of electric blankets are being urged to have their products tested to ensure they do not pose a fire risk.

Free safety inspections are being organised by the Isle of Man Fire and Rescue Service at fire stations in Ramsey, Port Erin and Douglas. Members of the Community Safety team will host the testing sessions in conjunction with UK company GEMS Ltd at the beginning of November.

UK statistics show that up to 1,000 house fires are caused by electric blankets each year, resulting in between 10 and 20 deaths and 190 injuries. As well as the human element of such incidents there are also financial implications, with the average cost of a house fire estimated at £25,000. Elderly people are particularly at risk as they are more likely to use electric blankets as a way of keeping warm at night throughout the autumn and winter months.

Free testing has been carried out in the Isle of Man on an annual basis since 2000 as part of an ongoing campaign to improve all aspects of fire safety. Almost 2,000 electric blankets have been examined since that date, with failure rates ranging between 33 per cent and 52 per cent. Representatives from GEMS Ltd have been able to repair a small number of faulty blankets, while plugs and fuses have been changed on others to make them safe. Customers whose blankets fail the test will again be offered discount vouchers towards the cost of purchasing a replacement from the Manx Electricity Authority or Pascoes.

Minister for Home Affairs Adrian Earnshaw MHK said:

‘The Isle of Man Fire and Rescue Service’s prevention and protection campaigns play a major role in reducing the number of emergency call-outs. I would urge as many people as possible to take advantage of the assistance and advice on offer as these free tests could help to prevent personal injury or damage to property.’

Station Officer Carl Kinvig added:

‘Faulty electric blankets can be extremely dangerous, particularly for the more vulnerable members of our society. If a problem is detected at one of our sessions, officers will either carry out a repair or offer customers vouchers towards buying a replacement. The main aim is to prevent members of the Manx public using unsafe items.’

Testing sessions will be staged at Ramsey fire station on Monday, November 3, Port Erin fire station on Tuesday, November 4 and Douglas fire station on Wednesday, November 5. To book an appointment contact 647303. Checks will also be carried out at the regional fire stations on those dates to ensure children’s car seats are fitted correctly as part of an initiative promoted by the Department of Transport.

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