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Are electric blankets safe
Lifestyle

Are Electric Blankets Safe?

ChiliSleep Team · Feb 03, 2022
Are electric blankets safe

A heated blanket or electric blanket may be useful in the cold months to stay warm. If living in colder climates, an electric blanket can be a welcome release from cold shivers and winter nights.

But, in some instances, an electric blanket may not be the safest and you should consider using another option. In most situations, an electric heated blanket doesn't pose any significant health risks. 

However, there are some instances where electric blankets are dangerous and you shouldn’t use a different type of blanket. 

Looking for a Different Alternative Than an Electric Blanket?

Our chiliBLANKET is a weighted blanket that when paired with the Cube or OOLER control unit uses water to heat the blanket—temperature ranging from 55-115º.

Shop Weighted Blanket

Are Electric Blankets Safe or Bad For You?

Below we will discuss and answer if electric blankets are safe? Are there any potential risks of electric blankets dangers, how they may be bad for you, and safety tips if you continue to use your blanket. 

1. EMF Exposure

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, [1] 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.

Study: Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields from Use of Electric Blankets and Other In-home Electrical Appliances and Breast Cancer Risk [2]

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.

2. 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.

Electric Blanket Fire Statistics

99% of all-electric blanket fires were caused by blankets that were 10yrs or older.

3. Potential Burns

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.

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 [3] 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.

4. Overall Health

Are electric blankets bad for you? Well, the exact danger level electric heating blankets present to the health of those using them is debatable, but on a basic level, 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 include the following. 

  • Frayed wires
  • Holes in the fabric
  • Sparks from the plug, wires, or outlet
  • An improperly functioning on and off switch or temperature control
  • Lack of automatic shutoff

So if you’re planning to use an electric 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

If you are concerned about the dangers of electric blankets, there are safer alternatives to give a try to help you stay warm. Below are just a few options to explore.

Blankets

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.

Water Heated Blanket 

Our plush 15lb cooling and heated weighted blanket is hydro-powered. Water has natural thermal advantages that make our temperature-regulated wighted blanket very effective in heating and cooling. 

The heated blanket not only delivers the calming benefits of a weighted blanket but also heats using water.

Our weighted blanket circulates channels of water to neutralize ambient temperature from 55-115°F / 13-46°C. It’s a weighted blanket and a heated blanket.

Hydro Heated weighted blanket

Flannel Sheet

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. [4]

Do You Wear Socks in Bed?

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 the safety 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!

Final Thoughts

Using a hydro-powered weighted blanket 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.

Citations:

[1] Francine Laden, Lucas M. Neas, Paige E. Tolbert, Michelle D. Holmes, Susan E. Hankinson, Donna Spiegelman, Frank E. Speizer, David J. Hunter, Electric Blanket Use and Breast Cancer in the Nurses' Health Study, American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 152, Issue 1, 1 July 2000, Pages 41–49, https://doi.org/10.1093/aje/152.1.41

[2] Zheng, T., Holford, T. R., Mayne, S. T., Owens, P. H., Zhang, B., Boyle, P., Carter, D., Ward, B., Zhang, Y., & Zahm, S. H. (2000). Exposure to electromagnetic fields from use of electric blankets and other in-home electrical appliances and breast cancer risk. American journal of epidemiology151(11), 1103–1111. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordjournals.aje.a010154

[3] Belanger, K., Leaderer, B., Hellenbrand, K., Holford, T. R., McSharry, J., Power, M. E., & Bracken, M. B. (1998). Spontaneous abortion and exposure to electric blankets and heated water beds. Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass.)9(1), 36–42.

[4] Raymann, R. J., Swaab, D. F., & Van Someren, E. J. (2007). Skin temperature and sleep-onset latency: changes with age and insomnia. Physiology & behavior90(2-3), 257–266. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2006.09.008

About the Author

ChiliSleep Team

ChiliSleep’s award-winning content team -- journalists, writers, and researchers -- report on a mix of innovative scientific studies, emerging sleep tech trends, and personal wellness topics.
Learn more about our ChiliSleep Team.

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