Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt is reminding far northern residents to be careful when using electric blankets which have been in storage for many months.

 As night time temperatures begin to drop, Mr Pitt said some people may reach for their electric blankets, unaware of the danger they could pose.

“Even here in the far north, electric blankets offer warmth and comfort during the cooler months.

However, if they are not looked after properly, they can cause electric shock, fires or property damage,” Mr Pitt said.

“Queensland’s Electrical Safety Office has received reports of three fires caused by electric blankets since July last year, and 18 since 2003.

“We don’t want a faulty blanket to result in tragedy this winter. So I urge all far northern residents to exercise caution before, during and after use, especially if the blanket has been stored away for several months.”

Mr Pitt said it’s especially important not to fold the blanket too firmly or to store it underneath heavy objects.

“People should thoroughly inspect their electric blankets before use to ensure there are no damaged or broken parts. If there are, the blanket should be discarded immediately or inspected by a licensed electrical contractor.

“It’s also important to read the manufacturer’s instructions and keep the manual for future reference.”

Industrial Relations Minister Cameron Dick said other items used in the cooler months such as heat lamps or bathroom fan/heater/light combinations should also be checked before use.

“People should make sure the vents are clean, correct lights and heat globes for the brand and wattage are fitted, and that they have been properly inserted.

“Heat lamps should not be left unattended for long periods, and if there are any signs of charring, burning or heat degradation in any of these devices they should not be used.

“Having a safety switch installed in your home and tested regularly is also an important way to prevent danger to your family.

“These lifesaving devices cut off the electricity supply when current is detected leaking from faulty equipment or wiring.

“By checking all of these measures are in place, Queenslanders can help to keep their families safe and warm this winter.”

Other tips for using electric blankets:

  • Never attempt to repair a damaged blanket yourself.
  • Only clean your blanket according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Ensure children, older people and those with an illness or disability are supervised when using a blanket.
  • Ensure all blankets are switched off when not in use.
  • Do not place stacks of clothes or other items on the bed as this can cause ‘hotspots’ which can result in fire.
  • Store the blanket where it cannot be damaged by heavy objects or where the element wire cannot bend, crease or kink.

To check your brand and model to see if it is on a list of recalled products, visit: www.deir.qld.gov.au