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.


poor said...

This is ridiculous and should be noted to the this case an established name.Precautions have to be take so that there are no such mishaps.

Andrew / Cambridge UK said...

I would check the instructions - I'm sure mine says you MUST fit the blanket to the bed with the electric plug/connector part on the top-side of the blanket. From your photo it looks like your connector is on the under side - which will put more mechanical stress on the cable when you lie/lean/sit on it.

Even so, as someone who develops consumer products (among other things) as a job, I still find it a bit surprising/concerning that it failed in such a short space of time.

JayDax said...

No - there was no instruction to that effect and it's natural to have the cable exiting on the underside of the blanket to allow it to pad the plug a little. It would be very uncomfortable to lie on otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Last night I discovered exactly the same problem with the Morphy Richards Fleece blanket, fortunately it had not done too much damage, but the cable was burnt just about all the way through.I bought mine 3 years ago from the excellent company Lakeland who I contacted this morning and was offered a full refund or replacement under their lifetime guarantee.Time M R got this sorted out down right dangerous.

Keith/ Lanark said...

I had the same fault happen to me last night, the photographs are identical to our problem plus it singed our brand new mattress.I put the blanket on 5 mins before getting into bed and when getting in I smelt something burning only when pulling back the sheet I discovered that the cable was burning through and the blanket smoking a little. As was said, thank god we weren't sleeping with it on as it says it can be used for through the night. I haven't done anything about it yet, but after reading the blogs I'm going to get on to Morphy Richards and Argos.

lissyf said...

The same thing happened to my daughter's Winterwarm electric blanket last week. The cable burnt out in the same place and scorched the mattress. It isn't old, has rarely been switched on and is fitted correctly. Very worrying that this is happening to others as well. What if she had been asleep when it happened, luckily she noticed a smell before going to sleep?

David said...

I have just discovered the same problem with my morphy Richards blanket. The same burn at the same point. My plug was facing up and fortunately didn't set the bed on fire. Why no recall? June 16, 2013. Melbourne, Australia.

Anonymous said...

We just had an identical problem October 2013 - your photo matches exactly the scorched cable entry point. Rather disgusted to see that there is no recall from Argos or Morphy Richards.