Electric Blanket Burns and Fires

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Certain types of electric blankets can be extremely dangerous. In this video, George McLaughlin takes a deep dive into the burn injuries and house fires caused by Sunbeam electric blankets. He has handled many product liability lawsuits, and he knows how to prove the connection faulty design or construction and serious injuries.

George McLaughlin is a personal injury attorney based in Denver, Colorado, and he accepts product liability cases from anywhere in the United States. Contact him now at 888-366-0579 if you know someone injured or affected by electric blanket burns and fires.

Video Transcript:

I got my first electric blanket fire case in 1984, and I looked at it and the more I delved into it, I realized and discovered that this wasn’t a rare occurrence. There were literally more than 1,500 fires a year happening in the United States from electric blankets made by one company, Sunbeam. There was a plastic that Sunbeam developed that they ran electricity through with two copper wires, very closely spaced. It’s about the size of a piece of telephone wire. These two copper wires don’t themselves get hot, but they’re encased in plastic. Plastic doesn’t conduct electricity. It’s an insulator. But if you put carbon in the plastic, carbon conducts electricity. You now have something that is a partial conductor, a semi conductor. And the way these PTC electric blankets work is as the electricity is passing positive and negative along the copper wires, electrons are flowing through the plastic from carbon molecule to carbon molecule. And that makes the wire get warm. The problem is if one of those little copper wires breaks, you get a very tiny arc and if you expose carbon and hydrogen as plastic to this little tiny arc, you convert it to solid carbon and hydrogen gas. Hydrogen gas. Think of the Hindenburg. It’s explosive.

And so what would happen is as people were sleeping under these electric blankets and these little tiny wires would break, the carbon would build up the hydrogen gas would build up and all of a sudden POP! It caught on fire. What I’m seeing now and I’m seeing more and more of these is people are getting injured by Sunbeam electric blankets. Not because they caught fire, but because they overheated. I had a young woman from the Pittsburgh area who woke up that I think was the day before Thanksgiving to horrible burns all over the side of her face. It was her electric blanket. There was no other explanation why she would have these burns on her face.

I went to a high end cooking supply house and I bought a high end electronic cooking thermometer and I put it into the electric blanket and I bundled the electric blanket up nice and tight to see just how hot it would get, and it heated to well over 135 degrees. Now that doesn’t sound all that hot but anything over approximately 114 degrees, given enough time, will cause a burn injury. I was able to take her case and get her a good result. It was a confidential settlement, but I got her what I considered under the circumstances to be a good result as did she. Because I didn’t have to recreate the wheel. I understand the product. I was able to demonstrate how and why it could malfunction. And we were able to successfully pursue that case and I’ve done a number of other Sunbeam burn injury cases where the case didn’t have enough damages that most other attorneys would have ventured into it. But I’m happy to do those cases.

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