RESIDENTS left shocked and upset following a fire that left an elderly neighbour with life-threatening injuries are being supported by firefighters and staff from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.

The Salford team are rallying the entire community to help them give older relatives, friends and neighbours some support in the wake of the incident.

Crews from Agecroft, Salford and Eccles fire stations have teamed up with community safety advisors and volunteers to check peoples' smoke alarms and offer home safety advice to more than 400 homes.

Preliminary investigations into the fire on Park Avenue, Swinton, at 9am on Thursday, February 14, suggest it may have been caused by an electric blanket.

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Swinton based charity Helping Hands has offered to test electric blankets for residents next Thursday, February 21, and Friday, February 22, afternoons free of charge.

Station Manager Paul Smitham has been co-ordinating the response to the fire this morning.

He said: "So far it's gone really well, we've identified 440 homes to target for Home Safety Checks and a couple of clubs for older people we can give some fire safety advice to.

"We'll also be giving talks in local schools over the next few weeks. Children and young people can be very influential on adults in passing on our advice and, as a fresh pair of eyes, may spot hazards in the home that others haven't seen.

"Helping Hands has kindly offered to test peoples' electric blankets free of charge and I would urge anyone who owns one to get it tested at their premises on Unit 4, Swinton Hall Road next Thursday and Friday afternoon."

Councillor David Acton, Chair of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority, said: "Our thoughts and sympathy go out to the injured woman and her family.

"It's only natural for people to be using items for extra warmth during periods of freezing weather.

"We urge everyone to use such items with caution - ensure you follow the manufacturer's instructions and, if in any doubt your blanket or heater is not working absolutely perfectly, do not use it."

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ADVICE ON BUYING AND USING ELECTRIC BLANKETS

When buying your electric blanket you should:

-       Buy it from a reliable source.
-       Check that it has a UK safety standard mark - this symbol means the blanket has been independently tested and meets the latest UK and European safety standards.

Before you use your blanket make sure that it (or its cord) does not show any of the following danger signs:

-       Fraying fabric
-       Scorch marks
-       Exposed elements
-       Creasing or folding
-       Soiling
-       Damp patches
-       Tie tapes damaged or missing
-       Worn flex
-       Loose connections
-       An old BEAB safety mark - a round symbol (the new sign is white capital letters on a black background).  This means it is more than 10 years old and should probably be replaced due to age.

If you are in any doubt about your blanket, contact the manufacturer before you use it to make sure that it is safe.  It may need to be replaced.

Electrical safety advice can be found on the GMFRS website here - www.manchesterfire.gov.uk/fire_safety_advice/home_fire_safety/electrical_equipment.aspx

For a free Home Safety Check, which may include the fitting of smoke alarms, please contact GMFRS on 0800 555 815 or visit www.manchesterfire.gov.uk/fire_safety_advice/home_fire_risk_assessments.aspx

Last update: 14/02/2013 17:06:26
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