Electric blankets (or ‘heating pads’) can offer true comfort and are a mainstream modern convenience. However, because they are designed to create heat from electricity, they are prone to issues that can cause an injury or a fire. We provide tips here for buying, using, and inspecting your electric blanket to keep you or a loved one comfortable and safe.
Faulty electric blankets can present a serious safety issue
An electric blanket that is damaged or not used properly can easily become an ignition source for a fire. Ting regularly sees and identifies faulty electric blankets. Hazards found in faulty heating pads/blankets are not insignificant; upon inspection, the arcing activity is normally due either to poor component quality (even in newer blankets) or to general wear and age.
To remain as safe as possible, keep these tips in mind if you or someone you care for regularly uses an electric blanket.
Buy your electric blanket with care
- Do your research – seek out legitimate online reviews by reputable outfits.
- Only purchase electric blankets certified by nationally recognized testing agencies such as UL (Underwriters Laboratories).
- Most people don’t ‘register’ their blanket purchase with the manufacturer; if this is the case for your purchase, be sure to periodically check online for any safety recalls.
Power your electric blanket smartly
- If your blanket feels damp or has been exposed to liquids, don’t plug it in.
- Always plug the cord directly into a wall outlet.
- Don’t plug into an extension cord, power strip, or outlet extender.
- Don’t overload the outlet – avoid plugging into an outlet that is already taxed with other devices.
- Do not use more than one electric blanket at a time.
Use your electric blanket properly
- Naturally, follow the manufacturer’s guidance on usage, cleaning and storing your electric blanket.
- Never leave your electric blanket plugged in unattended.
- Don’t leave it plugged in for extended periods, or overnight; utilize a timer if your blanket has one.
- Try to keep the blanket flat when in use; avoid folding it, rolling it up or otherwise ‘balling’ it up while in use.
- Avoid ‘smothering’ your blanket under pillows, cushions, mattresses; avoid placing items on top of the blanket.
- Don’t keep your blanket one one area of the body for too long as this could pose a burn threat.
- Keep the above in mind if you are caring for an individual using blanket; burns can occur more easily for anyone who might have difficulty sensing temperature extremes or physically unable to move the blanket themselves if it gets too hot.
- When you are done using it, it is always best to store your blanket flat, and if you can’t, gently roll it up; don’t fold it, as this can damage the internal heating coil.
Inspect your electric blanket often
- Give your blanket a quick but thorough check before each use.
- Normal wear and tear can cause wiring and other components to become less flexible, fray, break, or otherwise damaged and susceptible to malfunction.
- Wear can be accelerated and useful life reduced if the blanket is improperly handled, or subject to prolonged or unsupervised use; this is more likely to occur in situations with small children, elderly persons, or anyone with physical handicaps.
- Regularly check the cord where it connects to the blanket and to the controller for compromised insulation or for loose connections.
- Heat should be evenly distributed across the blanket. Periodically check for “hot spots”, where one section of the blanket feels significantly hotter than other sections.
- While rare, mistakes during manufacturing or assembly can be missed during quality inspections; these wiring errors or faulty control units can reveal signs of an issue such as a burnt ‘electronic’ smell or discoloration such as ‘yellowing’.
Replace your electric blanket when it makes sense
- If you are not sure about the age of an electric blanket, and it looks old, it is likely worth replacing. Older blankets may not have an automatic temperature control to shut it off if it gets too hot.
- If your heating blanket is older than 10 years, consider replacing it, especially if it has seen a lot of use.
- Replace sooner if there are signs of material stress, discoloration, or odd odors.
- If you learn that it has been recalled, stop using it immediately.
We hope you found this helpful! For a complete list of winter season safety measures, please see our other easy to read safety posts: