Now that it’s getting colder, many of us are getting out heavier weight duvets, throws and electric blankets to keep warm. But electric blanket safety is an issue. Faulty electric blankets can be fire hazards. In fact, faulty electric blankets cause more than 5,000 house fires each year so now is a good time to ask: is it time to replace your electric blanket?
In most of the cases where domestic fires were caused by electric blankets, there were clear signs that the blanket should have been replaced – but would you know what these signs are?
Electric blanket safety – 7 signs your blanket may no longer be safe
Bedding specialists Sleepy People say there are 7 signs which quickly and easily show that a blanket shouldn’t be used. It really isn’t worth taking a risk when you can get a new electric blanket relatively cheaply these days. It’s definitely better to be safe (and warm) than sorry.
Replace your electric blanket if:-
Inspect your electric blanket closely to see if any of the following apply. If they do, it is possible that your electric blanket is no longer safe to use.
The fabric of the blanket
- Is the fabric of the blanket frayed or worn?
- Is there any discolouration or visible scorch marks on the fabric?
- Are there any creases or folds in the fabric?
The blanket electrics
- Are there any visible wires or wires poking through the fabric?
- Is there any damage to the cable that you plug into the power socket?
- Is there any damage to the blanket controls?
- Does the control buzz when the blanket is turned on?
The age of the blanket
If the heated blanket is over 10 years old you should replace it.
How to use an electric blanket safely
A commonsense approach to any electric gadget is needed of course, but make sure you follow the safety tips below:
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions
- Use your electric blanket for the purpose it was intended – i.e. an over blanket should not be used as an under blanket
- If possible secure it to the mattress so that it does not slide and move about.
- Look out for signs of wear and tear listed above – e.g fraying and exposed wires. Unplug it immediately if you see discolouration or smoke.
- Always turn off and unplug the electric blanket after using it.
- Don’t sleep with your electric blanket on all night unless it is specifically rated for this purpose. Use it to warm up the bed before you get in and then switch it off before you fall asleep.
- Avoid folding the blanket so that you don’t damage it. Keep the blanket completely flat as folding it could cause overheating.
- Don’t use an electric blanket on a water bed or with a heated mattress pad at the same time.
- NEVER wash your electric blanket as the washing machine will damage the wiring.
- Keep pets OFF your electric blankets as they can prevent heat escaping, thus causing over heating and a fire risk.
- Also don’t pile stuff on top of an electric blanket – books, toys and pillows can also cause overheating
- Avoid twisting the cabling which could damage the cords and the control
So is an electric blanket bad for you?
New electric blankets pose a minimal safety risk, but if your blanket is old and damaged, as outlined above there is a risk of burns and fire.
Pregnant women should take care when using electric blankets due to the risk of overheating and many health organizations say they should not be used during pregnancy.
Never use electric blankets on infants, toddlers, people with disabilities or anyone who cannot operate the heating controls to avoid a risk of burning.
How to dispose of an electric blanket
Electric blankets should not be disposed of with general domestic waste but taken to a recycling facility which accepts electric and electronic appliances. Check with your Local Authority to find your nearest recycling centre.
If you have elderly parents, it might be worth giving their electric blankets a quick check. If yours are anything like mine, they will keep everything for as long as possible – even if things are less than safe.