Electric blankets and heating pads make cozy companions on chilly days. But they potentially could be a fire hazard if not used correctly. Before you plug yours in and snuggle up for the season, consider these electric blanket and heating pad safety tips from The Electric Blanket Institute and Electrical Safety Foundation International, as well as the Seattle Fire Department.
Electric blanket safety tips
- Check the product label. Make sure your electric blanket is certified by a national testing laboratory, such as UL. You can also check the Consumer Product Safety Commission to make sure your electric blanket has not been recalled.
- Keep the blanket flat while using it. Folds or bunched-up areas can create and trap too much heat.
- Think about an electric blanket with auto-shutoff. If your blanket doesn't have a timer, turn it off before going to sleep.
- Consider your bed. Never use an electric blanket on a waterbed or adjustable, pull-out sofa, recliner, or hospital-style bed . Also don't use a heated blanket and a heated mattress pad at the same time. Overheating might result.
Safety concerns with electric blankets
- Don't use an old blanket. The majority of electric blanket and heating pad fires are caused by blankets and pads older than 10 years . That's because newer blankets are less likely to be worn through, plus they operate with rheostats. A rheostat controls heat by gauging both the blanket temperature and the user's body temperature.
- Don't place anything on the blanket. This includes yourself unless the electric blanket is designed to be laid on. Sitting on the electric blanket may damage the electric coils .
- Don't use the spin cycle. The spin cycle's twisting, tugging and turning action might cause the internal coils in your blanket to be twisted or damaged.
- Don't allow pets near your blanket. Cat or dog claws can cause rips and tears, which may expose the electric wiring of the blanket and create shock and fire hazards. If you can't keep your pet away, consider purchasing a low-voltage blanket .
- Don't run cords under your mattress. It's tempting to keep cords hidden, but running them under the mattress creates friction that can damage the cord or trap excess heat.
How to store an electric blanket safely
- Store the cords. Unplug the controls from the electric blanket and the wall. Place the control unit and cord in a small storage bag.
- Fold loosely. Fold the electric blanket loosely, avoiding sharp folds and creases.
- Use a storage bag. Place the electric blanket in a storage bag with the small bag containing the control unit on top.
- Store on a shelf. Place the bagged electric blanket away but don't store anything on it to help avoid creasing the coils.
When used right, electric blankets help run your thermostat at lower temperatures without sacrificing any warmth or comfort. However, this is only true if the electric blanket or heating pad is well maintained and properly used.