Tarves woman highlights dangers of leaving washing machine on overnight

A TARVES woman and Ellon business owner had a lucky escape with her family on Tuesday night after the washing machine filled the house with smoke.

Karen Cooper-Bonner, who owns Beautique on Station Road, woke from her sleep to the sound of the smoke alarm at 1.20am, the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Recalling the terrifying incident, she said: “I was catching up with washing after Christmas and New Year, one of my daughter’s was staying over at her friend’s house that night and added her bedding to the pile, I put a load on at around 11.50pm and then went to bed.

“I’ve seen adverts on the TV about not to leave appliances on overnight - but you never think it will happen to you, how wrong I was.”

Karen heard the smoke alarm at 1.20am, jumped out of her bed and rushed down the stairs, only to find that halfway down was covered in thick smoke.

It was then “panic stations”, as she didn’t know what she was about to find - she shouted on her husband Nicky, who quickly switched the main power off and pulled the washing machine plug out.

Although the washing machine didn’t catch fire - it is more than likely it could of done. Karen said: “We are so lucky, if it wasn’t for our smoke alarm we would of been none the wiser and the situation could have been a lot worse. The smoke was awful and because of the smouldering plastic it was really strong.

“We are lucky to be alive,” she said.

Karen wants to highlight to people that it can happen and to take heed of the advice, not to leave any appliance on while asleep - and also to check smoke alarms regularly.

Group Manager and Head of Risk Reduction at Grampian Fire and Safety, Ally Birkett, told the Times: “The reality is, leaving washing machines, dishwashers or any item with high usage of electricity on whilst asleep or when not in the home can cause a fire. It is the same if a TV is left on stand by - a fault could trigger and cause a fire to start. The risk of leaving appliances on is intensified when you are in bed as you are unable to respond.”

Every week in Scotland, two families are subject to house fires due to appliance faults and once every couple of weeks, TVs left on stand by are the cause of a fire.

The message from Ally is simple: “Never ever leave anything on whilst in your bed or not in the home, the reality is that a fault could trigger a fire.”