Space Heater, Electric Blanket, Blamed in Fire Death

Discussion in 'General Preparedness Discussion' started by ke4sky, Feb 18, 2009.

  1. ke4sky

    ke4sky ke4sky

    A Centreville (VA) man who was found dead inside his burning home Monday was killed by smoke inhalation and thermal burns, Fairfax fire officials said yesterday, and the cause of the fire was an electric heater and electric blanket too close to combustible materials.

    The man's name was not released yesterday pending notification of his family. Flames were shooting through the roof of his home in the 13200 block of Lee Highway when firefighters arrived at 2:10 p.m., and fire spokesman Dan Schmidt said firefighters pulled the man out of the house before the blaze became too intense. The man was found on the second floor, which was also where the fire is believed to have started, Schmidt said.

    Heater, Blanket Blamed in Centreville Fire Death -


    Due to the combination of heat, electricity, the abundance of flammable bedding material, and a sleeping occupant, the use of electric blankets is of concern to fire safety officials internationally. Of primary concern are blankets that are older than 10 years and/or have been subject to damage, by creasing, flexing, fraying, or ordinary wear and tear. In the UK, it is estimated that 5,000 fires per year are caused by faulty electric blankets, of which 99% are believed to have been caused by blankets 10 years or older. PR1602

    Electric blankets also present a burn risk to those who cannot feel pain or are unable to react to it. Individuals included in this group are small children, diabetics, and the elderly.

    The City of Fairfax Fire Department offers the following recommendations for using electric blankets safely:

    • Only use electric blankets that have been approved by nationally recognized testing agencies (like Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.).

    • Always buy new electric blankets; second-hand blankets may not be safe.

    • Replace all electric blankets that are more than 10 years old. Most fires caused by electric blankets are caused by those older than 10 years.

    • Replace any electric blanket that is worn or torn, where the electric cord is frayed, or where the temperature control is damaged.

    • Turn your electric blanket off when not in use. Many older models have no internal temperature control to shut the blanket off when it gets too hot; if your blanket has no such internal control, consider replacing it with a newer model.

    • Turn your electric blanket off before you go to sleep (unless the blanket is made specifically to be used all night).

    • Refrain from using more than one electric blanket (or heating pad) at a time. Do not use electric blankets and heating pads together. The heat generated by the combined appliances can cause serious burns.

    • Do not plug your electric blanket into an outlet that is controlled by a light switch; the blanket could be switched on accidentally.

    • Do not pile toys, pillows, blankets, or other materials on top of an electric blanket or tuck electric blankets underneath mattresses or other items; excessive heat may build up to the point where the blanket could ignite.

    • Do not sit or lay on top of an electric blanket; this may damage the blanket’s internal coils and expose the heating element to combustible fabric.

    • Never ball up an electric blanket up and leave it on; excessive heat may build up to the point where the blanket could ignite.

    • Unplug your blanket if you smell smoke or if any scorching is evident; discoloration of the blanket may indicate that it is burning internally.

    • Never wash an electric blanket; the twisting, tugging, and turning action of the washing machine will damage the internal coils.

    • Do not dry clean electric blankets; the chemicals used in the cleaning process may damage the heating insulation and increase the risk of fire.

    • Ideally, electric blankets should be stored flat. If that is not possible, roll it up or fold it with as few creases as possible; be careful when folding the blanket to protect the internal coils.

    • Replace any blanket where the embedded heating wires have been displaced or damaged. Check by holding the blanket up to light; the wires should be evenly spaced and not touch each other anywhere.

    • Never use an electric blanket that is wet; do not turn an electric blanket on to dry it out. Refrain from using electric blankets and hot water bottles together.

    If you have any doubt about the safety of your electric blanket, discontinue using it. It can still be used as a regular blanket, without plugging it in.

    If you have any questions about electric blanket safety, please contact the fire prevention, life-safety secttion of your local fire department.

    City of Fairfax, Fire Safety
    Electric Blanket Safety - Fire and Rescue - Fairfax County, Virginia


    In cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Bilt-Safe Technologies Inc., of Erwin, Tenn. is voluntarily recalling 60,000 (including 13,720 sold to consumers) electric blankets. When the temperature controller on the blanket is reset multiple times or the blanket is folded or covered with additional blankets, the blanket can overheat. This can result in smoldering and melting, posing a burn hazard to consumers. See:

    Bilt-Safe Technologies Recall of Electric Blankets


    More information:

    Electric Blanket Safety
    Electric Blanket Institute - Safety
    Electric Blanket Fire Safety Advice
  2. Canadian

    Canadian Well-Known Member

    I've never used an electric blanket. I've never understood the appeal. A normal blanket does the job just fine. Plus you don't die.

  3. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

    We had a fire here in Calgary in a rented basement suite. Seems the owners of the house installed security bars through out the whole house - the new renters felt a little chill in the basement and purchased an electric space heater.

    In the middle of the night, a fire broke out because of that space-heater and the tenents were overcome by smoke - two died there at the house, one died later at the hospital.

    It isn't a good thing .. but - that kind of stuff happens all the time.
  4. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

    Found the story:

    Calgary Sun - - Four trapped in house fire

  5. Canadian

    Canadian Well-Known Member

    Lesson - put on a sweater or use a normal blanket.
  6. The_Blob

    The_Blob performing monkey

    according to the article it appears that these people were TOO STUPID to be allowed to reproduce (ie NOT putting batteries in their smoke alarm AND having a space heater close to combustibles), so the REAL villain is stupidity.
  7. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

    Actually - the people moved into the basement suite only a few weeks before as tenants and the landlords had placed security bars over the windows and did not have any exit-points available to the tenants. The landlords are being charged with lots of different infractions to the tune of $15,000 in fines plus jail-time.

    There were a few other problems found after the fire to bring on the charges.

  8. The_Blob

    The_Blob performing monkey

    ok, I'll agree that the security bars not being unlockable from the inside is not their fault, but daaaaamn, spend the $1.59 for a battery for the smoke detector & DON'T place the METH LAB next to the space heater... :eek::D:rolleyes:;) (kidding)