Elec­tric blan­ket fire a warn­ing

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS - By MARY-JO TO­HILL

A Queen­stown woman re­ceived a re­cent wake-up call that saved her life and could save oth­ers, Cen­tral North Otago fire safety of­fi­cer Stu­art Ide says.

She was wo­ken early in the morn­ing by flames lick­ing her wrist, and while this was a ter­ri­fy­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, at least she was still alive to tell the tale, he said.

Thou­sands of peo­ple who had gone to sleep with their elec­tric blan­kets on, and been burnt to death in their beds, or over­come by smoke and flames, were not so lucky.

‘‘She was ly­ing in bed, fac­ing the room, with her hand out the side. Had she been turned the other way, we would have had a fa­tal­ity.’’

Although the fam­ily did ev­ery­thing right, by shut­ting the bed­room door to con­tain the fire, it was a cau­tion­ary win­ter tale, he said.

The fire started as a re­sult of wear and tear on the cord im­me­di­ately at­tached to the blan­ket’s con­troller, an all too com­mon oc­cur­rence.

‘‘If you can see any ex­posed, coloured wire, then you are at risk.’’

This is re­gard­less of the blan­ket’s age, he said.

Ide could not stress enough that peo­ple should switch them off at the wall when they go to bed. He also rec­om­mended that a three-bed­room house should have five smoke alarms – one in ev­ery bed­room, the liv­ing area and the hall­way.

Your house num­ber should be clearly vis­i­ble so it can be found eas­ily, he said. House fires were of par­tic­u­lar con­cern in Queen­stown’s high fire risk ar­eas such as Alpine Re­treat area, known to emer­gency ser­vices and the De­part­ment of Con­ser­va­tion as the ‘‘Red Zone’’.

Photo: MARY-JO TO­HILL

A cau­tion­ary tale: Cen­tral North Otago Fire Safety Of­fi­cer Stu­art Ide with the re­mains of a faulty elec­tric blan­ket that caught fire.

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