'Hell no': Mum says she'll never use electric blanket again

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied
A young Taranaki mum says she will never use an electric blanket again after a faulty one started a blaze that destroyed her family home.

The devastating fire, which happened in Waitara near New Plymouth on Friday night, has prompted Fire and Emergency NZ to warn that electric blankets - even relatively new ones - can kill.

Brittany Nawani, of Waitara near New Plymouth, switched on an electric blanket in the main bedroom before going to put her 15-month-old son Shiv to sleep in another room, just before 8.30pm on Friday night .

The blanket was on for a matter of minutes before a fire started, quickly spreading through the house.

The fire service was called to the Nelson St fire about 8.30pm, with crews from Waitara, New Plymouth and Inglewood attending.

By the time the crews arrived the house was well involved in flames. The house was all but destroyed, along with everything they owned.

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied
Thankfully nobody was injured but the family now faces rebuilding their lives after losing the home they had bought just last year.

The service confirmed the cause of the blaze was a faulty electric blanket.

Nawani estimated it was bought about four years ago. "We only used the blanket in the winters and only on really cold nights."

There was no way in hell she would ever use an electric blanket ever again, she said.

Nawani and her husband Lucky bought their house in February 2018. A photo posted to Facebook shows them proudly posing in front of their new purchase.

Thankfully, the home was insured, and the pair have support around them, including kind locals who have donated food and clothing. Brittany's mum has also started a Gofundme page to help them get back on their feet.

But Nawani has gone public because she wanted to warn other people about the dangers of the devices.

"Honestly if you are going to use one just get them checked and store them safe," she said. "I'd hate for the same thing to happen to someone else."

The devastating fire prompted Andrew Cotter, the fire risk management officer for Taranaki, to issue safety warnings for anyone using electric blankets - including to get them tested every year.

Worn and old blankets could cause shock, fire and even death, Cotter warned.

Sleeping with a blanket on - even on low - was dangerous, and heavy objects should not be put on the bed while a blanket is on, Cotter said.

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied
Fire and Emergency NZ's safety tips for electric blankets

• At the first sign of wear, replace the blanket or have it checked by a qualified electrician.

• Replace your electric blanket every five years with a new heat-protected model

• Keep the blanket flat on the bed and ensure controls and cords are not twisted or caught between the bed and mattress.

• Roll your blanket when you store it for summer. Folding damages internal wiring.

• Don't place heavy objects on the bed while the blanket is on.

• Never sleep with your blanket on, even on low.

• Don't leave your blanket on during the day.

Comments

electric blankets have to be operated correctly / and not operated unattended or running for long times

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