The death of a Whanganui woman in a fire last year caused by a faulty electric blanket lent poignancy to this year's annual check.
People were queuing by 8am for the 9am start of the Fire Service's annual inspection of blankets. It's run in conjunction with Laser Electrical and a team of volunteers.
Fire Service fire risk management officer for Taranaki/Whanganui Andrew Cotter said in the last month there had been four fires in the lower North Island caused by faulty blankets.
And the Fire Service's investigation of a fire in a Heads Road home last year found an electric blanket was the cause.
Jennifer Wilks, 79, died from the injuries she suffered when fire broke out in the bedroom of her Gonville home on April 22.
This year people have been able to drop off their blankets and have them tested during the day at the Fire Station in Maria Place.
Last year the got about 400 blankets, this year its expected to be more like 500. Twenty per cent of blankets fail testing.
Mr Cotter said at 10 am Wednesday morning they "had already had some dodgy ones."
The most common cause of failure is cracked controllers, worn insulation over wires in the controller or cord and wires worn or bunched together.
He said it is imperative people roll blankets rather than fold them when they are stored.
"Fold them up and the wires bunch up and hot spots form."
Newish blankets aren't immune from faults.
"We had one of those big fleecy blankets costing $300-$400 fail, It had been stuffed in a bag at the end of winter and was damaged" Mr Cotter said.
Mr Cotter said it was also essential people turned the blanket off before going to sleep.
Jeff Potaka had brought two blankets along for a check. They both passed.
He hadn't put them on a bed yet and was making do with a hot water bottle but the cold snap had got them out of storage.
"It's about safety.
"When the grandchildren come to stay you don't want them harmed.
"It's worth getting it done."
Mr Potaka has been getting his blankets checked for the past three years. He is grateful for the service.
"It's brilliant that they do it."
If you missed this year's testing Laser Electrical in Wilson St will do it for a minimal charge.
Electric blanket safety:
*Worn/old blankets can cause electric shock, fire and possibly death
*At the first sign of wear have your electric blanket checked
*Replace your blanket every five years
*Don't place heavy objects on the bed while the blanket is on - including the dog or cat
*Make sure the blanket is always flat on the bed and controls/cords aren't twisted or caught between mattress and bed base
*Roll blanket when you store it