Electric Blanket Fires
Electric blankets and electric heating pads are two forms of electrically-heated bedding products commonly involved in fires and burn injuries. There are numerous types of electric blankets and heating pads on the market; each has its own characteristics. However, as a group, they have many configuration and failure mode similarities. The forensic engineers at WHA have extensive experience in the investigation of electrically-heated bedding product fires and burn injuries.
Over the last twenty years, Dr. Wendell Hull and his staff of experienced engineers have investigated approximately fifty fire and burn litigation cases involving instances of property loss and personal injury. These cases range from very small fires and equipment failures, with minor property damage or personal injury, to multi-million dollar property loss and the death of individuals involved in the fire.
Many technological changes in design and manufacture of electrically-heated bedding products have occurred over the years. WHA's forensic engineers have provided investigation services involving those changes throughout that period. Significant changes have included the transition from thermostat heating wire to heat-sensing coaxial heating wire, and to positive temperature coefficient (PTC) heating wire technologies. These innovations also include transition from the arc tube to the solid state safety circuit technologies.
Historically, failure modes have been found in numerous areas in these products. Failure modes stemming from manufacturing or design issues are known to occur in heating wires, connectors, printed circuit boards, temperature control units, thermostats, safety devices and/or electrical connections.
Irrespective of the evidentiary remains of a potential electric blanket or heating pad fire or over-heating instance, WHA has the experience and expertise needed to provide a high quality forensic analysis. This expertise is founded on decades of investigation, testing, and re-creation of electric blanket and heating pad fires and over-heat conditions. WHA's forensic engineers are also IAAI and NFPA Certified Fire Investigators with extensive experience investigating fires from the ground up, including fire origin.
Product testing is a substantial component of the services the WHA engineering staff provides in our modern laboratory and test facility. We perform standard and non-standard testing of products for companies located throughout the world.
Dr. Wendell Hull and David Pippen have published multiple papers on the topic of electric blanket fire investigation and electric blanket technology investigation. To find out more regarding electric blanket fires see the Special Report on Electric Blanket Fires Part 1 & 2, in Fire Findings Vol. 11, No. 1 and Vol. 11, No. 2.
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