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Are Electric Blankets Safe For Adults & Children?

a profile image of TSA author Alex

Written By Alex Petrović

Certified Sleep Consultant

Featured image of are electric blankets safe.

2 April 2024 6 min read

During the winter we always need something extra to keep us warm and comfortable. It can be warm, flannel pajamas, a winter duvet with TOG rating above 10 or an electric blanket. But are electric blankets safe?

Electric or heated blankets, as they are occasionally called, have been around for quite some time. But we have the impression that they are more popular now than ever before. And we can certainly understand why this is so.

Alongside the general characteristics of electric blankets which are good, modern electric blankets have been significantly improved. So, the sleeper no longer feels wires, and the controller is very small with lots of functions. But the question of heating blanket safety always arises. AKA, are electric blankets safe?

In theory, a heated blanket looks a bit dangerous because it can cause a fire. But in reality, the probability that this will happen is minimal. To help you reduce the chances of something bad happening to zero, we will tell you how to avoid potential problems and risks as well as some other things related to this sleep product.

How to avoid the potential problems and risks of electric blankets?

An image of a rolled electric blanket.

Precaution is always the best way to stay safe in various situations, including when using a heated blanket. The Association of Firefighters from the USA stated that electric blankets are the cause of fire in less than 0.1% of cases of home fires. This speaks in favour of blankets being completely safe, but you can never be too sure.

So, we're going to go over a few general guidelines that can ensure your safety when using an electric blanket. At least these are the main things you should keep in mind.

Test & an approval certificate

This is not a regular duvet, but a product that needs to be tested and approved. Literally the first thing you should check when buying an electric blanket is whether it carries the certificate of one of the nationally-recognised independent testing agencies. Once you find the tag, then you can think about other features because then you are sure that it is 100% safe. If it is not tested, keep looking for another model.

Avoid second hand electric blankets

There are things you can buy second-hand and get what you want at a fraction of the price. For example, a refurbished mattress. But electric heated blankets are not one of those things. In over 90% of cases, the blankets that caused a fire were older than 10 years. That is not the only problem.

You do not know if the previous owner handled the blanket properly and if there was any damage. It should be mentioned that the use of a second hand blanket is not hygienic because this type of blankets cannot be washed as a regular duvet. So stay away from used ones and buy a new electric blanket.

Inspect the wires and look for signs of damage

An image of an electric blanket being turned off

Although you will buy a new product, this does not mean that you should not inspect it immediately and ask for a new one if you notice even the slightest signs of damage. Inspection of embedded heating wires and the whole blanket should be something you do regularly.

Every few weeks, spend a few minutes to make sure everything is in good condition and that both adults and kids can use it safely. This is especially useful to do in the beginning as the blanket might still be covered by a warranty.

Turn the blanket off when not using it

An image of the controller for an electric blanket to turn it off

You should turn the blanket off when not using it for two reasons. The first reason is, of course, security. When you're not using it, it probably means that you are not in that room or in the house at all. So, if a problem occurs, you will not be able to react in a timely manner.

Another reason is service life. An electric blanket certainly has a shorter service life compared to an ordinary blanket or duvet. So to make it last as long as possible, don't let it work unnecessarily when no one is using it.

Do not wash your electric blanket

You probably think now that our site should be called Captain Obvious instead of The Sleep Advisors. BUT you wouldn't believe how many people actually wash their electric blanket even though it's clear that something containing wires is not washable.

However, it is also essential that you follow the care instructions provided by the manufacturer. There are electric blankets where you can remove one part and wash the other part. As long as you follow the care instructions, everything should be fine and your blanket will be clean and free of allergens.

Do not dry clean your electric blanket

Dry cleaning is an absolutely forbidden way of cleaning your electric heated blanket. The explanation is very simple. If you dry clean the blanket, you will expose it to chemicals that will damage the wire insulation and make it unusable.

Each manufacturer will indicate that the product is not suitable for dry cleaning. At least we've never seen an electric blanket label that stated otherwise.

Avoid drinking water while using an electric blanket

Water and electricity together are one big no-no. Water is a conductor of electricity which means that you are going to be on electricity's path if water and electricity touch.

Of course, no high-voltage electricity passes through the electric blanket, because a special device converts it into low voltage. But you should certainly not drink water while using an electric blanket. Even if a wet electric blanket is not that dangerous for you, the water will ruin the blanket and you will no longer be able to fix it.

Avoid folding up the electric blanket

An image of a folded electric blanket.

If you fold up the electric blanket as you are used to folding the duvet, there is a high probability that you will damage it. Wires that are inside are not very thick and durable, so folding up can significantly damage them and even make the blanket dangerous. That is unnecessary risk so be gentle with it.

This is especially true for slightly chaper electric blankets. After all, they probably aren't insulated that well. So, roughing the blanket up could cause some damage to the wires.

Is an electric blanket safe for use during pregnancy?

a woman sleeping on a AngQi 65 inch Pregnancy pillow

This is a topic on which there is no consensus. While some experts believe that a heated blanket is safe for pregnant women, others recommend that women stop using this type of blanket in early pregnancy.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is among those who recommend that an electric blanket should not be used during pregnancy, so you should probably follow their advice.

The explanation provided by the WHO says that every fetus is very sensitive to environmental conditions. They also say that any change can have a negative impact. That is why an electric blanket is not the only thing to avoid.

Both the sauna and even sunbathing are also on the list! If you still want to use an electric blanket during those 9 months, make sure to use it only for a short time daily. Also choose the lowest heat setting available.

Can an electric blankets cause cancer?

The connection between an electric blanket and cancer is a topic where the debate is even more heated than the previous topic we talked about. The topic of electric and magnetic fields and various diseases is much broader than just electric blankets. It has been debated for decades whether EMFs can cause cancer and other diseases. This topic is very important since smartphones and other devices are around us every day.

The National Cancer Institute, as well as many associations of doctors and physicists, claim that electric blankets and similar devices by no means can cause cancer. The frequency of electric and magnetic fields is so low that it cannot affect our cells in any way. There is no difference between an electric blanket and a hair dryer for example.

So much research has been conducted, and behind them are respectable institutions. That means that you can use an electric blanket and ignore the conspiracy theories.

Are electric blankets safe for people with dementia?

An image of an older couple in bed sleeping well without snoring issues.

Elderly people generally have problems with circulation and that is why they need something to keep them warm. An electric blanket is an ideal option and is very useful for those who do not take medicines for circulation.

But many are worried about whether the electric blanket is safe enough for the elderly, especially for those who suffer from dementia, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson’s disease and other similar diseases. And when we know that almost a million people in the UK suffer from dementia, then that is a very important and legitimate question.

It would be ageism to put all elderly people in the same category. That is why elderly people who do not have health problems, which includes not only dementia, but also some other diseases such as diabetes and neuropathy, can use an electric blanket.

However, an electric blanket is not safe for those suffering from dementia, because they may forget to turn off heating pads or something similar that can have catastrophic consequences. It is worth mentioning that people with dementia also often have temperature regulation problems, which is one more reason to avoid heated blankets.

But do keep in mind that this is just our advice. Your GP knows about your specific case a lot better than we do. So, if you're wondering whether your parents can still use an electric blanket, it's best to ask their doctor.

How to store electric blankets safely?

An image of a folded electric blanket

It is crucial to store electric blankets safely and properly, not only to avoid fire and similar dangerous situations but also to prolong the service life. As an electric blanket is not cheap, you definitely want to use it for at least a few years once you buy it.

So, we're going to go over a few general guidelines for storing your electric blanket. If you think we missed anything, let us know in the comments!

Roll the blanket gently (avoid folding in half)

Remember we have told you to avoid folding up the electric blanket? But since you have to store it somehow, then it's best to roll it. Roll the electric blanket safely, loosely and gently, otherwise, you can damage the wires in the same way as when you fold it. If you have enough space, then just leave it on the couch or bed until the next time you plan to use it.

Separate the power cord

Before you roll the blanket, first separate the power cord. Although the power cord is thicker and more durable than the wires inside of the blanket, folding can also damage the power cable. You could say it's even more dangerous than electrical wiring damage.

Never store items on top

Never forget how fragile all the electrical parts inside the blanket are. So never store any item on top of it as you normally put things on top of a duvet that is almost indestructible. The more you take care of the electric blanket, the longer it will last and the less likely you are to face hazard.

Protect the blanket from dirt and water

We have already mentioned that you should not drink water in bed when using an electric blanket. But it’s not the only moisture you can expose the wires and cord to. Sweat and other body fluids will probably not damage the blanket, but it is better to keep it dry all the time. The same goes for dirt of any kind.

Conclusion

So, are electric blankets safe? We'd say that they are. However, you do have to be smart when it comes to how you use and store an electric blanket in order to avoid any potential mishaps. But that's our view on the matter. What do you think? Have you had any negative experiences with an electric blanket? Feel free to tell us all about it in the comments!

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About the author

Alex Petrović
Sleep Consultant
A CPD certified Sleep Consultant with more than 2000 hours of research into all the different ways we can get a great night's sleep. As a former insomniac, I know how difficult life can be without a nightly recovery and I love that I get to share everything I've learned with you all. So hopefully we can all sleep soundly!
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