Heated seat cushions

17 January 2024

Using lithium-ion battery-powered heated seat cushions.

As church communities continue to take steps to reduce their carbon emissions and tackle climate change, you may be considering alternatives to oil and gas to lower the church's carbon footprint.

Carefully consider any forms of alternative heating to choose one that meets the needs of your church.

Your insurance provider should also be part of this decision making process to understand the impact a change in heating could have on your insurance cover.

Safety when using heated seat cushions

Lithium-ion batteries are widely used as a power source in portable electrical products, and failure rates are low. Still, there have unfortunately been a number of electrical fires linked to their use, which have also resulted in thermal runaway (intense flaming and explosions).

The safe use of lithium-ion batteries as part of any heated seat cushion is critical, along with the selection of seat cushions and fabrics that will deliver an appropriate level of fire performance for how and where they will be used.

Please consider these key risks when introducing heated seat cushions:

  • Seat cushions that meet the requirements of BS 5852 Part 2 Crib 5, as detailed in the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations, for both the cushion and fabric covering provide a higher level of fire resistance and are more suitable for use in public buildings, including churches. Manufacturers and suppliers of heated seat cushions will be able to advise on the fire performance of their products.
  • Select heated cushions that include a thermal cutout, isolating the power if excessive temperatures are detected.
  • Select products with the relevant CE Marking that show they meet the legal requirement for sale in Europe. CE marking is still recognised in the UK.
  • Review your fire risk assessments for church buildings and update them if you introduce heated seat cushions, noting the change of risk this creates and your corresponding fire safety measures.
  • Lithium-ion batteries should be removed from cushions when recharging. Never leave these on charge and unattended. Charging should be done in a secure area, clear of combustible surroundings and with no public access.
  • Inspect batteries for any signs of damage before you use them. If there are any signs of damage, don't use them; a damaged battery could result in a serious fire.
  • Avoid using trailing electrical leads, which can create both a trip hazard and an increased fire risk if there is damage to electrical cable insulation.
  • Where you use electrical extension leads to charge the batteries regularly, inspect them for signs of damage and wear, in addition to periodic electrical safety checks by a competent person. These checks can be done as part of a church's regular portable electrical equipment testing regime. 
  • Never daisy chain (link together) any electrical extension leads; this can lead to electrical overload and potential fire.

Baptist Insurance is supporting our customers in taking positive steps to tackle climate change. Please contact us if you need further guidance.

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