A heated blanket or electric blanket may be useful in the cold months when you have no other source of warmth. However, there are some instances where electric blankets are dangerous and you shouldn’t use them.
If living in colder climates, an electric blanket can be a welcome release from cold shivers and winter nights.
Are Electric Blankets Bad For You?
Are electric blankets safe? Below we will discuss the potential issues of electric blanket dangers and how they may be bad for you.
First and foremost, there are some side effects of using electric blankets and can be harmful to your health.
Leading advocates for the disuse of electric blankets due to the associated health risks argue that the use of these products enhances your risk of being diagnosed with cancer, decreased fertility in men, and pregnancy problems for women.
All this is correlated with the EMF (electromagnetic fields) to which electric blanket users are exposed.
Like any electrical appliance, electric blankets and heating pads emit EMFs. While scientists don’t agree on how damaging they can ultimately be, there’s one thing that can’t be argued: if a product emits EMFs, the last thing you want is for it to be on top of your body, especially for extended periods of time. Many people go as far as removing EMF-emitting devices from their bedroom, which includes laptops, cell phones, and other devices and appliances.
Electric Blanket Fire Hazard
It’s a general rule of thumb: whenever you’re using electricity, there’s the potential for fire. When you consider that an electric blanket or heating pad is constructed of wires and additional components, all it takes is one of those wires to become crimped or frayed to cause a life-threatening scenario.
According to The ESFI (also known as Electrical Safety Foundation International), electric heating blankets and heating pads cause nearly 500 fires per year, with the majority involving blankets that are over ten years old.
Statistic: A recent study conducted by Columbia University states that 99% of all-electric blanket fires were caused by blankets that were 10yrs or older.
Heating products, especially those with high settings, also have the potential to burn users. Children and the elderly are the most at risk since they might not have the awareness or ability to handle a dangerous situation, which can lead to serious injuries or, in extreme scenarios, death. (In fact, statistics show that 89% of individuals who died from electric blanket-related incidents were over 66.)
People with diabetes are uniquely endangered since they often suffer from neuropathy, which means they have reduced sensation in their extremities, and might not know their electric blanket or heating pad has overheated until it’s too late.
Bonus Safety Tip: “It’s important that anyone with reduced sensation, inability to communicate, or diminished capacity not use electric blankets.” Pregnant women should be wary as well since you don’t want to raise your body temperature more than 101 degrees Fahrenheit or it could be harmful to the baby.
The exact danger level electric heating blankets present to the health of those using them is debatable, but on a basic level, it seems common sense that wrapping yourself in electricity on a consistent basis may be bad for you.
Beyond the long-term health consequences associated with the use of electric blankets, there are also clear and present dangers associated in real-time with their use. It is possible to overheat while using electric blankets along with a heated mattress pad.
With all the potential risks associated with the use of electric blankets, the operative question becomes, “Why are people using these dangerous electric blankets?” The common answer would be, “Because there is no alternative.”
Causes of Electric Blanket Fires
Some of the most common mechanical causes of heating pad fires are:
- Frayed wires
- Holes in the fabric
- Sparking from the wiring, plug, or outlet
- An improperly functioning on/off switch or temperature control
- Lack of automatic shutoff
So if you’re planning to use a heated blanket, make sure you inspect it thoroughly before use.
Electric Blanket Safety Tips:
Even though modern heated blankets are considered commonly safe, it's essential that they are used correctly to limit the dangers of potential home fires. Below are some helpful tips on how to use an electric blanket safely:
- When storing, they should never be folded, rolled up, or have anything else on top of them. This included while in use too.
- If it was stored rolled up or folded, do not turn on.
- Don’t wash the blanket or get it dry cleaned.
- To avoid accidentally turning it on, avoid plugging it into an outlet that is controlled by a switch.
- Refrain from sitting or lying on the electric blanket.
- Avoid using a heating pad and electric blanket at the same time.
- Never use it on an adjustable bed or waterbed, recliner or pull-out sofa.
- If it doesn’t have a timer, make sure you unplug it before you fall asleep.
If you are still concerned, it’s best to unplug it.
Alternatives to Electric Blanket
There are many, better, and safer alternatives. Below are just a few to explore.
That’s right—try a good, old-fashioned, non-electric blanket to get snug as a bug. Some of the warmest materials for blankets are wool, cotton fleece, and cashmere. You can double down on warmth by making sure your sheets are made from these warmer materials as well.
If one is warm, then two is undoubtedly warmer. If you’re still cold, keep piling on the blankets until you’re weighed down in warmth.
Hydro-Capable Heated Blanket (Warming & Cooling)
Our plush weighted blanket is hydro-powered. Water has natural thermal advantages that make our temperature-regulated wighted blanket very effective in heating and cooling. The chiliBLANKET not only delivers the calming benefits of a weighted blanket but also heats using water. It’s a weighted blanket and a heated blanket.
Try removing your sheets, and replacing them with flannel sheets can help keep your bed warm. Flannel traps body heat and helps retain it; basically, it insulates you while you’re sleeping.
Warm Bedtime Clothes
Sometimes a thick pair of pajamas is all it takes to keep cozy when it’s cold out. You could even channel your inner cartoon character and wear a long winter hat with a fuzzy tassel at the end.
Sleeping with Socks
When thinking about wearing socks to sleep, it’s common to think you would overheat the feet. But, in reality, doing so may assist the body’s internal temperature regulation resulting in better sleep. A study reported that individuals that sleep with socks go to bed faster.
Statistic: 28% of people love wearing socks when they go to bed while 44% mentioned they hate going to bed with socks.
Hot Water Bottles
However old-fashioned it may be, the hot water bottle is still effective. That said, keeping a plastic container with boiling hot water at the foot of your bed is hardly peril-free.
In addition to risks associated with using this antiquated method (for instance, “accidents” at the foot of the bed from the ancient bottle springing a leak), there is also a time limit to the efficacy of this method. The heat dissipates with every minute the hot water bottle is exposed to the laws of thermodynamics. But you won’t have to worry about setting your alarm because once the heat wears off, the cold will wake you up!
Cooling Mattress & Blanket
Consider this the proverbial angel on your shoulder, as opposed to the devil that is the electric blanket. Chili products are often lauded for the cooling environment they create for optimal sleep optimization, but they're no one-trick pony.
Our bed cooling systems are temperature-controlled mattress pads that fit over your mattress and under your bedsheets. You can operate the system anywhere between 55–115 degrees Fahrenheit and can utilize our heating and cooling mattress topper, the Cube or OOLER, our heating and cooling mattress pad to keep you warm if you’re feeling cold. Or use our chiliBLANKET, a temperature-controlled weighted blanket.
All this is accomplished in a safe, EMF-free environment, as the Cube, OOLER and chiliBLANKET utilize no electricity in the pads themselves. They merely circulate water through silicone tubes and will steadily heat or cool that water to the optimal temperature of your preference.
Bed cooling systems can keep you cool as a cucumber or hot as a chili pepper. This is my personal heating and cooling preference because you can choose the exact temperature of your sleeping environment, and you don’t have to sacrifice health, safety, or convenience for the sake of comfort.
Osmond C. (2021, September 27) What You Need to Know About Practicing Safety with Electric Blankets. Retrieved from: https://www.thesleepjudge.com/electric-blanket-safety/
Author (2020, January 13) Fire Prevention: Electric Blankets [Blog Post] Retrieved from: https://www.restorationauthority.com/blog/fire-damage-electric-blankets/
Study (2000, July 1) American Journal of Epidemiology. Volume 152, Issue 1, 1 July 2000, Pages 41–49. Electric Blankets Use and Breast Cancer in the Nurses' Health Study. Retrieved from: https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/152/1/41/139166
Author (2021, September 10) National Institute of Environmental Health Science. Electric & Magnetic Fields [Blog Post] Retrieved from https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/emf/index.cfm