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News Nearby: Bed Catches Alight While 6-Year-Old Loganville Boy Slept

A frightening warning of the potential dangers of electric blankets.

Rayman Stanelle, of Loganville, has a lot for which to be thankful after a fire in his son’s bedroom in the early morning hours of Sunday left little damage except for a partially burnt bed and carpet. It could, he said, have been so much worse.

“I've always subscribed to the ‘butterfly effect’ that basically says every little decision, no matter how small, plays a part in how your life goes,” Stanelle said. “I think God knows your destination, but it is up to you with how you get there.”

Stanelle said he was sleeping in the bedroom with his son early Sunday when he woke to an “annoying alarm” and a bright light.

“I have three alarms on my phone, the first two are songs to kinda ease me out of bed and the third one is the beeping one that gets you mad and makes you want to throw something. Well the first thing I heard was the annoying alarm, which meant I was close to over sleeping.  I opened my eyes and wondered why the lights were on and then noticed Caleb's bed was on fire and the beeping I heard was our fire alarm. Granddaddy's electric blanket caught fire,” Stanelle said. “I grabbed Caleb and pushed him out of the room and told him to get Holly (his mom) and I screamed her name anyways. She came and got the kids and took them to the other side of the house. I grabbed a pail and was filling it up with water and tossing it on the bed and sheets but it was not helping. 

"I was about 15 seconds from leaving the house and watching it burn because it was about to get out of control. I can’t believe how big it got that fast. Holly brought the fire extinguisher and that put it out immediately. We are all safe, Caleb has some small burns on fingers, but is fine. The fear I saw in his eyes when he saw the fire still haunts me.”

As well as learning about the dangers of electric blankets, Stanelle said there were two other things that he took away from Sunday’s fire in his son’s bed, the first being a re-affirmation of the butterfly effect.

“I usually sleep with Caleb on Fridays...it is something he likes and his reward for good behavior. I didn't sleep with him Friday because we had to get up early and prepare for a yard sale. We only cleared $130 from the yard sale, which bummed me,” Stanelle said, adding that another thing that happened was that Saturday night he went to watch the Supercross on television at a friend’s house, and left before the end because he had to pack to leave for San Diego. He finished up his packing and because he hadn’t slept in his son’s room on Friday, he decided to do it Saturday instead.

“I got home around 12:30 a.m. and by the time I finished packing and shutting down the house it was 1 a.m. The last time I looked at the clock before falling asleep it was 1:15 a.m. The fire stated at 1:45 a.m.” Stanelle said, adding he’s left asking himself a whole lot of, “What ifs?” What if we had not decided to have the garage sale at the last minute and I slept with Caleb on Friday? Holly and I sleep with our door barely cracked so we would not have known until it was too late? What if I decided not to sleep with Caleb anyways since I was getting up early to travel? What if I stayed at Damyn's and watched all the races instead of leaving early and got home at two? What if we didn't have a fire extinguisher? What if this happened the next night when I was out of town?”

The other thing Stanelle learned - making just $130 on a yard sale is so irrelevant in the big picture. 

“Every now and then you get a reminder that nothing really matters except the safety of your family. All the problems we have are really nothing,” Stanelle said. “Now that $130 means nothing and having it was for another reason. The carpet and bed are trashed, but other than that the damage was contained. There is no doubt in my mind that God was watching us.”

According to eHow.com electric blankets can become damaged over time, exposing resistors and wires inside, leading to exposure. Once damaged, the chances of a serious or even fatal fire increase significantly. Wet or torn electric blankets can allow electricity to flow from the electric components, thereby sparking a fire. Fire officials report that 99 percent of all electric blanket fire incidents, however, involve blankets that are at least 10 years old. For more safety information, check the eHow website.

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