JointHeat, Inc. Warns Consumers: Recliner Chairs Can Kill

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There are real dangers associated with the use of a recliner chair... deadly dangers.

Is it possible a person’s favorite piece of furniture, one’s old friend, their soft, comfortable recliner chair could suddenly turn into a killer?

Yes! Definitely! And not only that, it could become a mass murderer… in the middle of the night.

No! This is not a prologue to the next really bad Sci-fi B-Movie. It is an extremely serious warning that one should never use an electric heating pad while relaxing in that old La-Z-Boy®.

And soon, all those heating devices will be tagged with Underwriters Laboratory (UL) labels, warning against the use of electric heating pads (and other electrical appliances) while relaxing in a recliner.

Excerpts from the news article that inspired this disquisition:

Star-Ledger, Newark NJ, Feb 19, 2006:

“Muriel "Louise" Pansarasa, 76, was killed after her husband's heating pad accidentally ignited a fire… authorities said.

"The pad ignited the recliner in which he had been sitting. When he returned, the chair was ablaze…

"He was burned trying to get to his wife," said deputy chief and fire investigator Jim Alvine.”

End of excerpts.

It would have ended there; however, the article caught the eye of Bill Lewis, V.P. Corporate Communications, JointHeat, Inc.®, ( manufacturers of the Electric Heating Pouch™, located in Jacksonville, FL.    

He subscribes to Google Alerts, a free service that continuously scans news services and notifies users when matching ‘hits’ are found. Lewis tracks several search terms, one of which is “Heating Pad”.

Google transmits to the user’s specified email address a short 3 to 4 line summary of the hits, which contain ‘clickable’ links that take the subscriber to the subject news article.

During the year Lewis has used the service the Star-Ledger story is the only “Heating Pad” news item that involved a fire. After he read the story he immediately contacted John Wihbey, the staff writer, who gave him fire investigator Jim Alvine’s contact information.

Alvine stated that the heating pad may have been the cause of the fire. But, he could not say for certain because “there was just nothing left.”

Nonetheless, he added, “Nobody should ever use an electric heating pad while sitting in a recliner.” He explained that there is always the possibility that the electrical wire could become entangled in the chair’s mechanism and become frayed or even severed – resulting in an obvious fire hazard.

That made good sense to Lewis and he began searching the Internet for any mention of this potential danger… but found nothing.

He then immediately penned an email to UL, suggesting that an appropriate notice should be included on the electric heating pad Warning Tags. He received a phone call from UL on Monday, March 27, indicating that such a warning will indeed become listed among the required cautions attached to every electric heating pad sold in the U.S.

Knowing it might take several more weeks, if not months, to put this requirement in place and properly notice all appropriate parties – and several additional months for the updated labels to begin showing up on retail shelves – Lewis opted for this news release.

Although the chances are infinitesimal that a news release from such a small company as JointHeat, Inc.® will ever “get legs” in the mainstream media, Lewis feels that his efforts will at least be appreciated by Mr. Panasaraso.

Concerning the reference to the possibility of the chair becoming a “mass murderer”? Think of high rise apartment buildings. - William Schultz, USNewsService.

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William Parrish
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