Wirral mother suffers horrible burns after pet warmth pad melts in microwave – Liverpool Echo
A Wirral mother was permanently scarred after drinking hot liquid from a burst microwaveable heat pack on her hand.
Stacey Wood described the “terrible pain” she suffered after the heat pad – designed to keep pets warm in winter – melted in the microwave and came into contact with her skin, leaving her with terrible injuries.
Birkenhead’s mother bought the SnuggleSafe Microwave Wireless Heatpad to keep her daughter’s pet rabbit warm when the temperature began to drop in November 2017.
The product she bought on Amazon is said to be microwaved on a regular basis and promises to keep pets warm for up to 10 hours. It was advertised as being suitable for small animals including rabbits.
After only using the pad for the third time since purchase, Stacey claims the filling inside melted and leaked, causing her skin to be damaged when she took it out of the microwave.
However, the manufacturer insists that the product has undergone extensive testing prior to manufacture and meets “high quality standards”.
She was treated at a specialist hospital for her burns, but three years later Stacey is still suffering from the aftermath of the incident. She cannot fully straighten her right hand and feels painful sensations.
Stacey, a full-time caregiver for her teenage daughter who has the rare genetic disorder Pitt-Hopkin syndrome, said: “We had never bought one of these heatpads before, but I’d heard how they could help keep pet rabbits warm So the winter thought I would try.
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“I followed the instructions on the letter, but when I took it out of the microwave the boiling liquid seeped into the palm of my hand – I hadn’t noticed it had cracked in the microwave and the pain was terrible.
“I ran it under the cold tap right away, but it was obvious I needed medical attention. So I went to my local emergency room, who then referred me to a specialized burn department.
“My daughter needs 24-hour care because of her condition. So having such a severe injury and waiting for her to heal had a huge impact on how much care I was able to give her.”
Stacey claims she followed the manufacturer’s instructions and heated the pad for six minutes according to its microwave power.
The mother of one directed the Hampson Hughes law firm to take action against the maker and was later awarded £ 7,500 in compensation.
However, SnuggleSafe declined liability, arguing that the product was not faulty and that Stacey overheated the pad.
The company asked her to drop the case, accusing her of “dishonesty,” but Stacey followed up on her case, which was settled out of court in September that year, trusting that she had used the product correctly.
Now, Stacey wants to raise awareness of the potential dangers of products like pet warmers.
She added, “The company tried to argue that I did something wrong and left it for too long, which caused the pad to burst – but I knew it just didn’t.
“I now have permanent scars and cannot stretch my hand without pain. I am also sensitive when I come into contact with certain surfaces, which is a constant reminder of the incident.
“It is extremely worrying to think about how much worse it could have been if a child took this product out of the microwave and I would urge pet owners to think twice before buying one of these heat packs.”
Nicholas Cowley, attorney at Hampson Hughes Solicitors, said, “This was clearly a very traumatic experience for Stacey and one that could have been avoided if the product had been suitable for use.
“The manufacturer denied liability until the eleventh hour, as a court case was planned, but agreed to settle out of court at the last minute.
“As the fall and winter temperatures start, many pet owners will consider buying a heat pad, like the one Stacey bought, to keep their pets cozy.
“We would advise people not to buy, but if necessary we would urge them to check product reviews and do thorough research before buying. Unfortunately, Stacey proves that these products are not always safe.”
What the manufacturers say
The manufacturers of SnuggleSafe have been asked to comment. Here is what they said.
“Although we sympathized with the policyholder’s experience, we asked to look at the heat pad in question to give us the time to fully investigate the matter, but were told that there was no longer a heat pad available for investigation.
“Ms. Woods’ microwave oven was also disposed of immediately and therefore could not be examined for a possible fault.
“The first contact we had with the applicant was with Ms. Woods ‘attorneys. The only information we got from the applicant’s attorneys was pictures of Ms. Woods’ countertop showing that it had melted significantly.
“When the SnuggleSafe pad is heated for the recommended time, it has a maximum surface temperature of 65 ° C and maintains its heat for up to 10 hours.
“This is the normal operating temperature. It is a very specific temperature as it has been tested for safety by Smithers RAPRA (ISO accredited laboratory) in various microwave power ratings (with certificates). The heat pad housing is made of HDPP and remains solid normal operating temperature would not cause a countertop to melt.
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“A temperature of at least 124 ° C (or at least twice the recommended microwave heating time) would have to be reached in order to melt the pad and leak the contents out of the HDPP housing. This is the starting melting point of the HDPP plastic we use.
“Our heat pad is SGS / Smithers RAPRA (ISO accredited laboratory) approved and also batch tested for product compliance. It has been manufactured in the UK to the same high quality standards for the past 20 years.
“The SnuggleSafe heat pad is used by many animal shelters and animal shelters for the safe wireless warmth they can get. Especially when animals need extra warmth, especially in winter. The SnuggleSafe heat pad was instrumental in bringing warmth to many people animals stranded during Hurricane Katrina.
“We wanted to go to court and prove our case, but legal proceedings had been lagged and changed many times due to time constraints from the court of Covid. Out of court the evidence was considered inconclusive but settled in good faith taking into account the applicant’s personal circumstances Belief without prejudice and as a “gesture of goodwill”. This was quickly accepted by the applicant. “