'This is serious': Expert issues warning over hot water bottles as winter looms

People seeking to save on their energy bills this winter by using hot water bottles and electric blankets have been warned to undertake vital safety checks first to avoid serious injuries.

Speaking on Monday’s This Morning, consumer editor Alice Beer told viewers about a woman who was admitted to hospital with third-degree burns on her stomach and legs after the rubber on the hot water bottle she was holding to her stomach split.

According to Beer, hospitals see one person a week with burns from a hot water bottle.

“Half of hot water bottle injuries need skin grafts, they need surgery. This is really serious,” she said.

She added that there is a little-known way to establish if your hot water bottle needs changing or not.

“They do have a date of manufacture, which you don’t know about,” she said.

“Why would you ever take the fluffy cover off? But inside – and I think this is the worst system of printing a date ever, because it’s so confusing – you’ve got a daisy wheel date with 12 segments.

“In the middle, you have the year it was made, then you’ve got 12 segments around the outside – those are the months in which it was manufactured.

“I mean it’s ridiculous!” she exclaimed. “Congratulations if you can work that out. Most people have no idea.

An electric blanket can heat your home for ‘pennies’ says Beer (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
An electric blanket can heat your home for ‘pennies’ says Beer (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

“If you don’t have it on, then you haven’t got it from a very good source, or it’s too old.”

Beer said that new hot water bottles should smell rubbery, an indicator of their strength.

“If it doesn’t smell rubbery, it’s got a higher portion of additives to rubber”, she added, which can affect its durability.

She also advised viewers to fill hot water bottles with the cover off.

Elsewhere, she added that electric blankets have the potential to head up your bed “for pennies”.

She warned: “But these are all wires, electric wires, and you’ve got to take that seriously.”

Presenter Phillip Schofield revealed that he has a scar on his leg from an exposed wire which he acquired at just 22 years old.

“Please don't buy a second-hand [electric blanket], make sure it's safe, check the connections, unravel it and make sure it's flat – but please be careful with them,” Beer advised.

Households who have been trying to avoid turning on the central heating in a bid to save on spiralling energy costs are now contemplating other ways to stay warm as the winter approaches.

The news comes as the UK braces itself for gusty winds, heavy rain and freezing temperatures.

Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill said that two areas of low pressure were set to bring “very wet and windy weather” to parts of the UK.