Merseyside Fire Service urges caution as electric blanket sales rocket amid cost of living woes

  • Video report by Andy Bonner

Fire safety experts are urging caution as soaring energy bills are leading to a surge in the popularity of electric blankets.

Suppliers say they have seen a huge increase in sales compared to this time last year as people look at ways to cut the cost of heating.

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service has issued advice to anybody thinking about using one this winter.

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service are urging people to think twice before getting an electric blanket

They say that while new electric blankets from reputable manufacturers are safe, they are warning people to get older ones tested for faults before switching them back on.

Head of Prevention, Mark Thomas, said: "It's about being cautious and aware.

"We would expect more people to have electric blankets at this time of year. Some people might be struggling due to the rises in the cost of living.

"If you do need to use your electric blanket just be careful if it's older. Make sure it is serviceable and working ok.

"Also if you're purchasing a new one it is quite important that you look at exactly where you're buying that item from."

John Goodwin's home was destroyed in the blaze Credit: John Goodwin

Incidents caused by electric blankets are rare but the dangers are all too real for John Goodwin.

The former Liverpool Airport firefighter lost nearly everything in a blaze which started in his bedroom.

He paid more than £100 online for an electric blanket from abroad and told me he will never use one again.

He said: "There's no price on your life. An electric blanket to me is a risk.

"To be honest, when you get in the bed with an electric blanket it's lovely. It's absolutely great. But some people leave them on.

"I wouldn't have one in the house now. It was just a nightmare."

Mark Thomas from Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service gives his safety advice

The government's energy price cap guarantee came into effect on 1st October 2022.

It aims to shield households and businesses from the worst of the impact of soaring oil and gas costs.

Yet prices have still risen from the previous period - and using more energy still means bigger bills.

Many people feel they have no choice but to cut back on central heating and consider alternatives.

Some people are choosing to heat themselves rather than their entire home. Credit: Philipp Schulze/DPA/PA Images

Electric blankets are seen as being much more efficient by keeping people themselves warm rather than their entire home.

Whilst the figures are different for everyone, we researched the potential prices for a typical household.

There is some help at hand, with households seeing the first instalment of the £400 energy bill support scheme in their October electricity bill.

The discount will be automatically applied monthly in six instalments between October and March 2023.

However, those on tight budgets may still struggle.

Electric blankets are flying from the shelves in this warehouse.

The John Cotton Group is a market leader of pillows and duvets and supplies electric blankets and heated throws to customers across the country.

David Page, sales and marketing director, explained how the autumn-winter peak period started earlier this year.

He said: "Consumers are definitely jumping on high tog duvets and heated products a lot earlier than they would normally.

"Everybody's getting geared up for the colder weather but with the energy crisis everybody's getting on to the high tog and electric blankets earlier.

"We're talking 200 to 300 times uplift in terms of sales so its incredibly busy at the moment compared to previous years.

"People are getting ready to heat themselves rather than their homes."

Suppliers are seeing a surge in the popularity of electric blankets.

Mr Page said more younger people are now buying their heated products.

He added that new electric blankets from reputable firms are safe: "They are all tested to a very high standard. They have to test to British Standard so there are no issues from that point of view."

The fire service agrees that electric blankets are safe if people buy recognised, kite-marked products.

If in doubt, the advice is get your electric blanket tested by a qualified electrician.