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Beware of fires and burns caused by electric heating mats and blankets 2019-01-15

Beware of fires and burns caused by electric heating mats and blankets

- Consumers should check the KC Mark and observe safety rules -

 

 

    With the use of electric heating appliances, including electric mats, electric blankets, and hot water mats, expected to increase in winter, the Korea Consumer Agency (KCA) (President Lee Hee-sook) and the Ministry of the Interior and Safety (MOIS) (Minister Kim Boo-kyum) have called consumers’ attention to safety incidents, including fires and burns, related to electric heating mats and blankets.

 

    According to the KCA, the number of safety incidents related to electric heating mats and blankets reported to the Consumer Injury Surveillance System (CISS)* over the past 3 years and 6 months (January 2015 ~ June 2018) totalled 2,411*, and among them, the number of incident cases reported to the CISS for the first half of 2018 stood at 524, already surpassing those (520 cases) reported in 2017.

           The CISS (Consumer Injury Surveillance System) refers to a system to collect, analyze and assess data from 80 consumer injury information providers including 62 hospitals and 18 fire stations designated under the Framework Act on Consumers, and 1372 Consumer Counseling Center.

    ** By year: (2015) 750 cases (2016) 617 cases (2017) 520 cases (June 2018) 524 cases

 

 

Most of the safety incidents including ‘fire, overheating and explosion’ occurred during the winter months of December to February.

    By product item, ‘electric mats and electric underblankets’ accounted for the largest number of safety incidents (1,467 cases or 60.8%), followed by ‘hot water mats (913 cases or 37.9%)’ and ‘electric seat cushions (31 cases or 1.3%).’ And according to the time of occurrence, 153 cases (53.3%) occurred in the winter (Dec.~Feb.), and in particular, the largest number of safety incidents occurred in January (among the 289 cases where the time of occurrence between January 2015 and December 2017 is identified).

 

    The most common types of safety incidents included ‘fires, overheating, and explosion (1,561 cases or 62.9%),’ followed by ‘malfunctions, ruptures and breakage (407 cases or 16.9%)’ arising from product quality and structural problems and ‘water and electricity leaks (382 cases or 15.8%).’

 

    Furthermore, ‘skin burns’ by long-term exposure to an electric heating mat or blanket or fire outbreaks accounted for the largest share of injury symptoms (667 cases or 88.0%) (among the 758 cases where injury symptoms are identified), and the most frequently injured areas were the ‘butts, legs and feet (350 cases or 46.2%)’ whose surface areas contacted on an electric mat while sitting or lying down are large (among the 758 cases where injured areas are identified).

 

Consumers should check the KC Mark and be well aware of matters requiring attention when purchasing an electric heating mat or blanket.

    The KCA and the MOIS have advised consumers that in order to use an electric heating mat and blanket more safely, they should check the Korea Certification (KC) Mark and a safety certification number when purchasing the product, and elderly people and children who have difficulty coping with overheating should refrain from using the product. Both organizations have also asked consumers to avoid direct contact of bare skin with an electric heating mat or blanket for the prevention of low-temperature burns.

   

     In addition, the KCA and the MOIS have emphasized that an electric heating mat or blanket should never be used with latex bedding because the latex has a high heat absorption rate and retain the absorbed heat, thereby having a high risk of fire, and it should be stored rolled up to prevent its heat wires from being broken off or bent.

 

    The KCA and the MOIS have also added that they will make every effort to prevent consumer safety incidents by conducting an in-depth analysis of the types and causes of safety incidents related to products frequently causing injuries to consumers going forward.

 

 

 

 

 

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