Are Electric Blankets a Safety Hazard?
If you love wrapping up in a warm blanket to watch a movie, read a book or take a nap, you’re probably a fan of electric blankets. They add a welcoming layer of extra warmth and comfort to get you through cold nights.
But while they’re cozy, many people wonder if electric blankets are bad for you. Good news — electric blankets are perfectly safe if you follow a few basic precautions. Read on for our list of heated blanket safety tips!
Are Electric Blankets Safe?
Combining electrical wires and fabric may sound risky, but heated blankets are safe as long as you use and store them properly. Using old or damaged blankets poses the biggest safety risk, but following safety precautions is important no matter your blanket’s age.
Here’s how to ensure your electric blanket is as safe as possible:
- Avoid buying used electric blankets.
- Avoid using blankets with obvious signs of wear, like burn marks, damaged wires, fabric tears or faulty temperature controls.
- Only purchase electric blankets from reputable retailers.
- Only purchase blankets approved by a nationally recognized testing agency, such as Underwriters Laboratory.
Dangers of Electric Blankets
The most obvious danger of electric blankets is the risk of overheating, which can cause burns or even start a fire. An electric blanket can overheat if:
- It’s been plugged in for too long.
- The wires are damaged due to age or improper storage methods.
- The blanket doesn’t have an internal temperature control.
Who’s at Risk?
People who are pregnant, diabetic or have poor circulation should use caution with electric blankets:
- Pregnant people: It’s best to avoid using electric blankets during pregnancy because excessive heat can be dangerous to the developing fetus.
- People with diabetes: Nerve damage, known as neuropathy, can be one of the complications of diabetes. Those with neuropathy may be unable to sense excessive heat, leaving them vulnerable to burns from an overheated blanket.
- People with poor circulation: Those with poor circulation may also have a reduced sensitivity to temperature changes. People with poor circulation in their legs and feet should consult their doctor before using heated blankets.
Additionally, infants and those who are immobile should not use electric blankets. Infants can easily get overheated and aren’t able to communicate it. People with paralysis or limited mobility may be unable to move or unplug an electric blanket if they get too warm.
However, you can still use an electric blanket indirectly if you fall into one of these categories! Plug it in and place it on your bed before bedtime, then turn it off and remove it when you’re ready to turn in.
Heated Blanket Safety Tips
We’ve collected the following tips to help you safely use, wash and store your electric blanket.
Using Heated Blankets Safely
Stay safe while using your electric blanket with the following tips:
- Replace your old blanket: Only use heated blankets that are under 10 years old. New electric blankets come with safety features such as internal temperature controls that turn them off before they overheat.
- Keep it unplugged: Unplug the blanket when you aren’t using it.
- Use one electric device at a time: Only use one electric blanket at a time. Don’t layer two on or use them alongside a heating pad.
- Keep control of the power: Avoid plugging the blanket into electrical outlets wired to light switches. The attached controller should be the only way to turn it on.
- Turn the blanket off before sleep: A blanket with a timer will automatically shut off if you fall asleep. If you must use a blanket without a timer, unplug it when you start to feel sleepy.
- Keep other objects off the blanket: Sitting, laying or placing heavy items on top of an electric blanket can damage the wires. Avoid stacking pillows, blankets or stuffed animals on top, too — this can trap the heat and introduce a fire risk.
- Keep the edges free: Don’t tuck the edges of an electric blanket into sofa cushions or under the mattress.
- Use caution when eating and drinking: Spills can seep through the fabric and damage the wires. Don’t use a wet electric blanket — if you spill something on it, turn it off.
Washing Heated Blankets Safely
Washing a blanket that contains electrical wires may seem risky, but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with a dirty, dingy heated blanket. Check the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions for how to clean your blanket properly. You’ll either wash it by hand or in the washing machine if the manufacturer recommends it.
Follow these steps if you’re washing by hand:
- Start by making sure the blanket is unplugged and detach the cord from the blanket itself.
- Fill a tub with warm water and add laundry detergent, swishing the water around to create suds.
- Place your blanket in the tub and let it soak for a bit.
- After soaking, remove the blanket from the tub and squeeze it gently to release excess water.
- Use fresh water to rinse it well.
- Hang the blanket in a well-ventilated space to air-dry.
- Make sure it’s completely dry before using it again.
If you don’t want to hand wash your electric blanket, you can use your washing machine, although you’ll need to do so carefully. First, soak the blanket in cold, soapy water for a few minutes. Then, place it in the washer on the delicate or gentle cycle for a few minutes. Follow that with a rinse and spin cycle.
You can partially dry your electric blanket in the dryer if you wish. Set the dryer to low heat and tumble dry for no more than 10 minutes, then hang the blanket to finish drying.
Storing Heated Blankets Safely
When it’s time to put your electric blanket away, you’ll want to follow a few best practices to ensure it’s safe to use when you pull it out again:
- Store the cords: Disconnect the control from the wall and the blanket and place it in a storage bag.
- Roll or fold the blanket loosely: Twisting the blanket into a loose roll is best. If you decide to fold it, avoid sharp folds and creases, which can weaken the fabric or damage the wires.
- Store the blanket: Place the blanket in a storage bag and store it on a shelf. Avoid placing anything on top of the bagged blanket.
MRCOOL Is Your Expert in Home Comfort
There’s no need to be nervous about using your electric blanket! You can enjoy its warmth with minimal risk using the tips and guidelines above.
MRCOOL is today’s top resource for innovative, efficient HVAC products that make home comfort simple. Check out our blog for more expert guidance on how to stay safe and comfortable in your home.