Are Electric Heated Blankets Safe?
Electric blankets have a reputation for being unsafe. But is it earned?
Electric blankets offer a convenient way to stay cozy and warm. But there’s also something about combining cloth blankets with electrical wiring that can seem at least a little dangerous.
So are electric heated blankets risky to use, or relatively harmless? Here we’ll take a look at some of the safety and health risks associated with electric blankets, and examine whether it’s a good idea to use them in your home.
Are Electric Blankets a Fire Hazard?
The most obvious safety risk presented by electric blankets is starting a fire in your home. But while there are certainly examples of this, those cases represent a tiny fraction of home fires.
“Electric-heated blankets don’t statistically reflect a significant home fire hazard,” Susan McKelvey, communications manager of the National Fire Protection Association, told the Today Show. “Considering that there is an average of nearly 360,000 home fires each year, fires started by electric blankets represented just .04 percent of those fires.”
If you’re using a new electric blanket, the fire hazard risk is minimal. Older electric blankets present a bigger danger. Wire damage and frayed fabric in older electric blankets can spark a house fire.
If you’re suddenly tempted to use an electric blanket that’s been lying around the house for a while, carefully inspect it for signs of damage before plugging it in. The electric blanket is more than ten years old, don’t use it. And don’t buy electric blankets secondhand.
Are Electric Blankets Bad for Your Health?
In most situations, electric blankets don’t pose a significant health risk. Over the years there’s been speculation that devices that create electric and magnetic fields (EMFs), like heated blankets and hair dryers, could cause cancer. Those theories have been thoroughly debunked by the National Cancer Institute.
There’s one primary danger with electric blankets: They may cause a person to overheat if left on too long, or overnight. Getting an electric blanket with a timer helps minimize that issue. If you’re pregnant and want to use an electric blanket, experts recommend keeping it on a low setting and monitoring your body temperature for any fluctuations.
How to Safely Store an Electric Blanket
Proper storage is essential to keeping your electric blanket in good condition.
- Unplug the cords and store them in a small bag.
- To keep the wires in good shape, don’t overfold the blanket or crease it too sharply.
- Don’t place anything on top of the blanket in storage.
- Don’t store the blanket where your pets could get at it.
If you follow these steps, your electric heated blanket will be safe to use all winter long. You might even be able to lower your thermostat a bit.