The BBC's Fake Britain featured the purchase of fake fire blankets. The Fire Service are called out to 20,000 kitchen fires each year. Two-thirds of those are in domestic homes.
Alarming stats like "cooking fires resulted in 30 deaths and 3,000 injuries" have led many homeowners to look for protective equipment like fire blankets or fire extinguishers online.
In Britain, there is no compulsory standard for fire blankets. However, there is a voluntary European standard which means that the product has been proven to suppress a fire within seconds and that the fire did not reignite if the blanket was removed after 17 minutes.
Bob Wells, Global Head of Personal Safety at the BSI (British Standards Institute) went on to say that there is another, more basic, test that your fire blanket must pass first.
It should have a label - just like an item of clothing - which displays the manufacturer's name, address and model reference. No label, don't rely on it.
A contributor to the programme reported that he had purchased a blanket that looked good online and claimed to have passed the European voluntary test.
When it arrived, he heard alarm bells.
The external packaging bore no manufacturer's logo and no country of origin. Closer inspection of the wording revealed broken English and several typos. It didn't inspire confidence in the quality of the product itself.
Matt Allwright then called on the West Midlands Fire Brigade to test some of the blankets that they had purchased online.
Rather than smothering the fire and starving it of oxygen, the flames broke straight through two of the six blankets and could have given serious burns to the person trying to use them. Five minutes later the fire was still burning on top of the blanket - the kitchen would have been destroyed long before the fire engines could have got there.
The Fire Brigade's advice for kitchen fires is:
Get Out, Stay Out and Call 999
Whether you're a home owner or business owner, buying fire safety equipment online is an area of potential risk. It might seem good quality at a great price, but you won't know whether your fire blanket will work until you have to rely on it in an emergency. You cannot test it. It's an alarming scenario.
Don't take a chance by going cheap, get advice and equipment that you know you can rely on in an emergency.
Click the image below to download our guide - keep your staff and property safe from fire!