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Two thirds of electric blankets are dangerous; 66% CATCH FIRE WHEN TESTED BY FIRE SERVICE WALES.

Byline: By MARTIN WILLIAMS

A FIRE chief has revealed two thirds of electric blankets tested by North Wales officers have burst into flames on being checked.

And Dave Evans, community fire safety manager for North Wales, also told the Daily Post how the credit crunch has led to a 10% rise in chimney blazes across the region this winter.

It is because more and more householders are switching to coal and log fires, candles andwood-burning stoves to try and save money.

He said: "We have seen a rise in chimney fires in past months. People are worried about fuel poverty and have financial concerns so they are reverting to cheaper methods of heating their homes.

"But they are often more dangerous, as is proving to be the case.

"We hold regular events where we invite North Wales residents to bring their electric blankets for us to check whether they work properly. From our experience, a staggering two thirds of these are dangerous and cause fires - around 66% of them.

"This has been the case for a number of years but more and more people are digging out electric blankets that have been sat in the cupboard for a year or two, because of the recent cold snap. They haven't been maintained properly and this could cause more incidents.

"As a consequence we are searching for an alternative to these blankets, and urging people who already have them to check them properly before using them.

Mr Evans said the fire service previously swapped people's faulty electric blankets for new ones, but scrapped that initiative recently.

"In the past we had offered a free new one but we moved away from that position because potentiallywe could have handedout electric blankets to people which would later have caused a fire if they hadn't looked after it properly, added Mr Evans.

"I urge people to have their electric blankets tested, and then to maintain them properly. The fact two thirds of them are faulty and can cause fires is of huge concern."

To register for a free fire safety check, visit www.nwales-fireservice.org.uk, email cfs@nwales - fireservice.org.uk or call freephone 0800 169 1234.

martinwilliams@dailypost.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

Grandmother Shirley Talbot of Lon Arfon, Caernarfon, pictured with Gareth Griffiths, Fire Safety Legislation Manager, had a lucky escape when her electric blanket caught fire. (Main picture) David Evans
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 12, 2009
Words:398
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