While an electric blanket that had been keeping its owner warm for an amazing 50 years failed electrical safety tests, a new plug was all that was needed for a hair dryer of similar vintage to get a pass mark.
These were just two of the items seen at the annual testing event, organised by the council’s trading standards team.
Residents from across the borough attended two days of testing, in Thornton Heath and Selsdon. Always popular, the testing days this year saw 87 items taken along by owners seeking advice and reassurance.
The list of appliances included heated rollers, vacuum cleaners, kettles, irons, toasters and a small electric stove heater. Of the items tested, 44 were electric blankets.
Sadly, a number of items were condemned for being unsafe and a potential danger to life. Overall, 45% of blankets, and 42% of portable appliances, failed. The latter total however, was reduced to 21% following minor repairs, such as changing plugs or replacing fuses.
Many of the failures were due to age, with several of the older blankets having no built-in safety features, making them potentially lethal. Modern blankets incorporate an overheat protection safety device that should disconnect the electrical supply in the event of a fault.
The failure rate for electric blankets was 45%, compared with last year’s figure of 52%.
In addition to the electric blanket that had notched up half a century, one had seen 45 years’ service, three were found to be 30 years old, and four were 20 years old. Four had no overheating protection system.
Safety experts advise that electric blankets have a ten-year life span, after which they should be replaced. It is also recommended that electric blankets are checked every two to three years by the manufacturer, a specialist electric blanket testing company, or competent person with appropriate knowledge. If there is evidence of damage, or wear and tear, the blanket should no longer be used, and should be replaced.
Croydon residents whose blankets failed safety testing were given discount vouchers toward the cost of replacement blankets.
Councillor Mark Watson, cabinet member for communities, safety and justice
“As ever, the two days’ testing proved popular, particularly with some of our older residents who’d had appliances for many years and weren’t sure if they measured up to modern safety standards.
“A fault in any of the items tested across the two days could have potentially lethal consequences, so it’s important that appliances are tested to make sure they’re safe to use.
“One resident said that they thought it great to be able to find an electrical checking service as there are no longer the small, local electrical stores that provided such a service in years past.
“Testing might result in the replacement cost of a failed appliance but, set against the value of a life, it’s a small price to pay.”
For more information on electrical safety go to: www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/