Saturday, April 04, 2009
Electric Blanket Safety - Morphy Richards Winterwarm
I'm making this post because of a disturbing safety issue which I feel there should be a record on the Web about. It could have killed us!
A few days ago, just after the alarm went off to wake us up, my wife leapt up in bed, pulled the sheet off the mattress and frantically reached for the power switch to switch off our double size, Morphy Richards Winterwarm electric underblanket. At the same time there was the unmistakable smell of burning.
She'd turned over in bed and seen a red glow through the sheet and heard sizzling.
Here's what we found on turning over the blanket corner:
This electric blanket has a removable plug which allows the blanket to be washed. Just where the cable enters the plug it had burnt through and was busy burning a hole in the blanket itself and, given time, would have set fire to the sheet and mattress.
I did a little research and discovered in the UK alone in 2008 there were 1,000 housefires attributed to faulty electric blankets. 20 people were killed and 250 were injured. Checking further revealed that 99% of these fires were caused by blankets over ten years old.
This electric blanket was just 9 months old! It had never been washed, had not been moved and the cable was in a position where it was not subject to any movement or stress. The fuse fitted to the blanket did not burn out.
I notified the manufacturer of the problem - and got an apparently 'concerned' reply but which ended 'We regret that we are unable to be of any further assistance with your enquiry and assure you of our best attention at all times.'
Argos, the supplier took my concern more seriously. They sent it away for tests and invited me to claim compensation for any damage caused.
In this case we were lucky, apart from a tiny scorch mark to mattress and sheet there was no injury or damage. We were awake when it happened; but what would have happened if it had failed at 3:00am when we were fast asleep? This has shaken my confidence in electric blankets and no matter what Morphy Richards say - I won't sleep with one switched on again.
In all fairness to Morphy Richards I have to report that they contacted me again after apparently reading this blog. It seems that the Winterwarm range is exclusively supplied through Argos on the understanding that Argos deal with all following consumer contact. This was not made clear in Morphy Richards first e-mail. Morphy Richards are now apparently trying to locate the blanket for detailed assessment.
I bought two of these blankets though and as far as the second one is concerned - I can detect no sign of the same problem but have warned my son not to leave it on at night.