Friday, April 20, 2012 - 2:22am
City of Madison firefighters have responded to two calls this year involved electrically heated bedding. Yesterday's fire was extinguished by the occupant of an apartment at 1634 Kings Mill Way, but a fire in January involving an electric blanket caused an estimated $5,000 in damages.
In each case, the cause of the fire stemmed from improper use of the bedding, primarily folding it in such a way that the electrical coils were compromised.
With some cool nights still ahead of us, the City of Madison Fire Department would like to offer some tips regarding safe use of these products.
1. Make sure your blanket has been approved by a nationally recognized testing agency.
2. Turn your blanket off when not in use; most models have no internal temperature control to shut the blanket off when it gets too hot.
3. Don't sit or lay on top of an electric blanket; this may damage the internal coils of the blanket and expose the heating element to a combustible material (the blanket).
4. Never pile toys, pillows, or stuffed animals on top of the blanket. They allow the heat to become excessive and build up to a point where it may become an ignition source.
5. Don't ball the blanket up and leave it on. This will also allow an excessive heat build up within the blanket.
6. Don't wash an electric blanket. The twisting, tugging, and turning action of the washing machine will most certainly damage the internal coils.
7. Be careful when folding the blanket to protect the internal coils. Do NOT tuck it under the mattress.
8. Unplug your blanket if you see smoke coming from it or if you notice discoloration of the blanket, which indicates it is burning internally.
There is no way to inspect an electric blanket for internal damage. If you have any doubt about the safety of your blanket, discontinue using it. It can still be used as a regular blanket, without plugging it in.
The City of Madison Fire Investigation Unit typically investigates fire-related events to determine origin and cause of fires. In addition, investigators seek to determine patterns and trends involving the safety of consumer products, and reporting any concerns to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.
- Lori Wirth(608) 266-5947