TIME is running out for people in Hartlepool to take advantage of a free electric blanket safety check.

The checking sessions will take place at Hartlepool Civic Centre, in Victoria Road, next Thursday and Friday.

The free check was originally open to pensioners, but has now been widened to include the over-50s as well.

The checks are aimed at identifying old and faulty blankets, which could put their owners at risk of a fire or being electrocuted.

Michael Welsh, Hartlepool Borough Council's principal trading standards officer, said: "We have tested hundreds of electric blankets over the years, and each year about half fail the test, which is very worrying indeed.

"We have found some dangerous electric blankets, with everything from worn fabric exposing the heating cables, to damaged flexes and heating elements. I'm sure there are still many old electric blankets out there being used every night which should be replaced."

As well as the electric blanket checks, other organisations will also be on hand at the sessions to offer help and advice to people on crime prevention.

Anybody wanting to have their blanket checked is asked to make an appointment by calling (01429) 523362.