The Deadly Flannelette
The apparent indifference of the public to the sheer wastage of life that is continually going on is perhaps a little disturbed occasionally by collected returns for a year, or some other period, when the impression due to numbers is by no means wanting; but all such summaries receive, as a rule, very scanty notice in the lay press. These considerations are well illustrated by a collection of newspaper cuttings that is before us relating to deaths by burning during the month of November, 1910, excluding those due to conflagrations. The number of cases of burning by mishaps—in nearly every case ending fatally— in this one month alone is 125, involving 131 persons. In no less than 39 of these death is ascribed to the rapid burning of flannelette clothing (nightdresses and underclothing) worn by the victim of the accident, and in 60 other cases it is related that the clothing took fire, without information being given as to what it was made of. The attractive qualities of flannelette are its soft, cosy feel, and it cheapness in comparison with woolen fabrics, and there is nothing surprising in finding that these considerations prevail, and any cautions that may have been previously received are forgotten. The remedy most likely to be efficient would appear to be the compulsory marking of all such material, in a manner that could not be overlooked, with a caution as to its dangerous nature, thus reminding the intending purchaser at the moment when the warning is most needed. More, no doubt, might also be done in the issuing of public warnings, either by the central or the local authorities; and if adequate means were taken to prevent flannelette being used through real ignorance of the danger involved, parents and others in charge might be guilty of punishable negligence in any case in which the use of flannelette was proved to have contributed to the death of a child. The fact that there is on the market a flannelette which is free from danger, being no more inflammable than flannel or other fabrics, while retaining the other characters of flannelette, appears to complete the case for such legislative restriction on the sale of the dangerous material as that recommended.—British Medical Journal.