The fire service has scrapped its annual series of free electric blanket safety checks because of the current coronavirus restrictions.
The expert annual checks are offered as a way of ensuring that people – especially vulnerable older people – have a chance to minimise their risk of a fire while trying to stay warm.
East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service also said that home safety “visits” are also now taking place over the phone.
The fire service has instead urged people to check their own electric blankets, with tips about danger signs to look out for.
It said: “East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is urging members of the public to check their electric blankets following a bed fire.
“Unfortunately, due to covid-19 restrictions, the service is unable to run its electric blanket testing service this year.
“However, following a recent fire caused by an electric blanket, ESFRS urges people to check their blankets before using them and to use them safely.
“A local gentleman recently sent us this photo (above) of a fire that started on his bed due to a faulty electric blanket.
“Fortunately, the man was not in bed at the time and is fine, but others might not be so lucky.
“Check your electric blanket regularly and do not use it if
- there are any scorch marks or discoloured areas on the fabric of the blanket
- wires are visible or poking through the fabric
- the fabric is frayed or worn
- there is damage to the power cable
- the control makes a buzzing sound when switched on or gives off a scorching smell
- the blanket’s connector – where the electrical cable plugs into the blanket – is damaged or over-heating
- your blanket is over 10 years old as they need replacing every 10 years
“If your electric blanket is safe to use, make sure you
- don’t touch the blanket if you have wet hands or feet and never use the blanket if it’s wet or damp
- don’t use a hot water bottle at the same time as using your electric blanket
- don’t use the electric blanket when it is folded or creased
- unplug the blanket before you get into bed unless it has a thermostat control for safe all-night use
- never use it with an air flow pressure relief mattress
- never use it if you use emollient creams on your skin
“If you are buying an electric blanket, please always buy a new one, and not a second-hand one, that displays a UK or European safety mark, such as Kema Keur or BEAB Approved, and buy from a reliable source.
“East Sussex Fire and Rescue staff and community volunteers are checking in on those who may be feeling isolated or alone during covid-19.
“To reduce the risk to you and our staff, we can now carry out special virtual ‘visits’ over the phone where we can talk to people about the fire risk in their home.
“We can also post out further information leaflets and/or smoke alarms.
“If the risk of fire is high and no one in the home is able to fit a smoke alarm, we will take protective precautions and fit a smoke alarm for them.
“To find out more about a home safety visit, you can either call us on 0800 177 7069 or complete and return a home safety visit request form which can be downloaded from our website and send it to email@example.com.
“A member of our Community Safety Team will then be in contact to arrange a suitable time for a telephone chat.
“They will ask a few simple questions regarding the property and its occupants. This will then help them determine how to assist.”
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