Are Electric Blankets Safe? Guide to Using Them Properly!

Electric blankets are one of the good gifts technologies have given us. But it can be unsafe if it is mishandled or used by the wrong sets of people.
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Last updatedLast updated: May 12, 2022
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Those who live in colder parts of the world understand the need for warmth. The night creeps in the cold, shivering air, and almost everyone has to shut their windows and light the fire to let the warmth in.  But even if you don’t live in a cold region, you have an experience of cold me. When you are cold, the next solution is to find a thick sweater or a blanket to wrap yourself with. But a blanket sometimes isn’t just warm enough. A heated blanket has saved the lives of many people during those thick and frigid winter nights. It can also protect against the famous influx of shivers that come with the night breeze while you sleep.

However, there is another side to the story. As with all electric devices, they can be unsafe sometimes. And due to some controversial talks, the question: are electric blankets safe – has become even more pressing. In this guide, we will touch on all the reasons electric blankets might seem dangerous and how you can use them with care.

What do electric blankets do to our sleep?

The modern electric blanket was developed as early as the 1900s. And since then, it has been evolving and advancing (thanks to technology) until it became what we know now. Its main objective (the reason it was designed) is to keep you warm during cold nights.

Nonetheless, there is a mild chance that those blankets do much more than that. The increased temperature can affect your sleep. The research was conducted and published on the National Library of Medicine (NLM) Trusted Source Sleeping with an electric blanket: effects on core temperature, sleep, and melatonin in young adults - PubMed Previous studies have inferred a relationship between core temperature and sleep disruption from manipulations of core temperature such as heating prior to sleep or administration of hyperthermic substances. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov about how electric blankets can affect a young adult’s core temperature, sleep, and melatonin.

The result was that the percentage of time that they stayed asleep in bed decreased significantly because of the increase in core temperature. And the study concluded that: a higher core body temperature does affect the length (efficiency) of sleep negatively.

So, we too can conclude that though a heated blanket is a big help by keeping a person warm, it can make you sleep for less time than you normally should.

Possible risks

Before you decide to purchase an electric blanket, here are some possible risks you should be aware of so that you can adequately use your blanket and avoid these risks.

Overheating

An electric blanket tends to heat up excessively. In 2010, news filled the air about a man that died from his blanket overheating while he slept. Heatstroke – a state caused by a dangerous increase in temperature – has also been reported to cause several fatal cases. Because of the temperature of the electric blanket, some of the victims were reported to have body temperatures starting from 105°F and above.

Burn is also another severe case that can result from overheating. In many cases, victims get burned because of their direct contact with the blanket when it’s hot.

Fire hazard

For an electric blanket, nearly 500 fire incidents occur yearly with old blankets – that’s why it is highly advised to use only new and modern electric blankets. We will also show you how to take care of your blanket in the coming sections.

Are Electric Blankets Safe? Guide to Using Them Properly!

Similar to overheating, a heated blanket can also become a fire hazard. However, you shouldn’t be too scared. This only happens with old models of the blankets and blankets that are not properly maintained. Also, it isn’t something so over the top. All electrical appliances can become a fire hazard for the same reason.

Who should be careful when using an electric blanket?

Despite the risks involved, you can use an electric blanket successfully if you know how to take good care of it. However, there are some sets of people that should completely stay away from an electric blanket.

Pregnant women

Women that are pregnant with a child cannot use an electric blanket because of many of the risks involved with the alteration of the body’s core temperature. Those that are still in their first trimester (1-3 months of pregnancy) are even more at risk. The heat can harm the baby and cause miscarriage.

To keep warm, it is better to use other types of a blanket to keep warm at night. Or use the electric blanket to warm up the bed. And then she should remember to unplug and keep away before sleeping.

Elderly people and children

Also, too old or too young folks cannot and should not use electric blankets. Older people, especially those with mild or major health issues, should not use these blankets because they can further affect them negatively. The electromagnetic radiation (which is too close to the body throughout the night – every day) can further increase their risk. They might also not be able to jump up in an emergency quickly.

For younger folks under the age of 3 they would most likely not know how to use the blanket properly nor remember to turn it off after use. If it gets too hot, they might also not be able to adjust it by themselves.

People with diabetes

Another set of people that should stay away from electric blankets is diabetic patients. Why? Diabetes is a result of high sugar levels in the blood (or high blood glucose level). And this state can cause a person to experience nerve damage (medically called diabetic neuropathy).  Diabetic neuropathy means that a person cannot sense temperature change.

And although this might seem like a minor issue, it could lead to serious and fatal outcomes. If a person cannot easily sense an increase in heat, he or she might end up getting a burn or worse. A study submitted to NLM in 2008 Trusted Source Nonlinear Relationship between Level of Blood Flow and Skin Temperature for Different Dynamics of Temperature Change Thermal homeostasis in humans is mainly achieved by regulation of the level of blood flow in the skin. Accordingly, blood perfusion through the vessels in the skin surface constantly adjusts to the skin temperature, and the skin temperature and heat loss rate changes as a result. In this way, fluctuations in skin blood flow are subject to thermoregulation.  www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov supports this with a report of many burn cases as a result of this.

Pet owners

Similar to young folks, animals do not know how to use an electric blanket. They also would not know how to turn it off if they were getting too hot. To better understand the danger you will put them through, imagine leaving them in a hot car while you go out for about 8 hours (with the doors locked). That is exactly what you would do to them if you gave your pet an electric blanket.

Safety tips

Okay, now let’s look at some of the safety guidelines you can follow to help you better take care of your blanket. Though this is not regular – wash your cloth, fold it well-kinda safety tips. It’s more of this.

Don’t put anything on top

This is one way to minimize the risk of using an electric blanket. No matter the size of your blanket, don’t fold it up after use and keep something else on top of it. Not only can that spoil a cord, but it can also break the wire used to pass electricity, and that can lead to serious issues.

Lay it flat

This is another safety measure you should take note of. An electric blanket is not like other blankets and should be treated otherwise. The best way to handle your blanket is to lay it flat on your bed. If it is turned on, don’t keep it folded or rumpled. It can cause heat to build up in some layers, thereby leading to heat-related hazards like burns or even a fire.

Store it properly

Are Electric Blankets Safe? Guide to Using Them Properly!

Everything with this type of blanket has to be done with absolute care.

This cannot be overemphasized. Keep your blanket safe and away from water, dust, lint, or direct sunlight. Also, don’t keep it where children can easily take it to play with.

Mind the cord

Finally, you should also be careful with the cord even while washing the blanket. Don’t fold the cords, and don’t make it a habit to mindlessly squeeze them on each other while keeping the blanket away. You can damage the blanket or cause it to malfunction.

FAQs

Take a look at some of these frequently asked questions.

Can electric blankets cause any disease?

Theoretically, electric blankets do not produce as much electromagnetic radiation to cause any disease in the human body, but due to some cases that have been exposed, speculation and more research have colonized the subject matter.

There have been possible links of these blankets to the development of cancer (thyroid and breast), although it has not yet been generally confirmed. Some other people have mentioned that the blanket causes their hair to fall out, but more study has been taken on this, and there is yet to be an affirmative conclusion. Therefore as of now, only rumors and a few pieces of information (that has not yet been proven) say electric blankets cause diseases.

Can you use an electric blanket when you have a cold?

Cold is a health condition caused by a virus and not necessarily from exposure to cold. There are several treatments for colds, and they are generously available to almost everyone in any local clinic or drug store. Electric blankets are not one of the treatments for cold. Its function is to keep you warm.

Final thoughts

Though an electric blanket might be under the category of bedroom apparel, it is an electronic device and should be treated as such. As for the question, if electric blankets are safe, we’ll say it depends on how it is managed and cared for. Correct usage of the blanket will significantly reduce the risk of fire, burn, or overheating. Also, do not use it if you are with a child (especially in our first trimester). You and your baby are extremely vulnerable during this period.

Older people and younger children under 3 years should also not be exposed to electric blankets. There are other alternatives for these sets of people, like using a hot water bottle or heat pad, covering your head and feet, using a duvet and very thick blankets, and so on.

References

1.
Sleeping with an electric blanket: effects on core temperature, sleep, and melatonin in young adults - PubMed
Previous studies have inferred a relationship between core temperature and sleep disruption from manipulations of core temperature such as heating prior to sleep or administration of hyperthermic substances.
2.
Nonlinear Relationship between Level of Blood Flow and Skin Temperature for Different Dynamics of Temperature Change
Thermal homeostasis in humans is mainly achieved by regulation of the level of blood flow in the skin. Accordingly, blood perfusion through the vessels in the skin surface constantly adjusts to the skin temperature, and the skin temperature and heat loss rate changes as a result. In this way, fluctuations in skin blood flow are subject to thermoregulation. 
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