Before you buy a soft and warm, heated blanket, you might wonder if electric blankets are safe. With plenty of information available online and numerous blanket models on the market, potential customers might get confused. My task here is to break things out about electric blankets and their safety.
In short terms – electric blankets are safe, but there is more about usage, maintenance, and features that can help you handle them confidently and without any risks. The State prescribes standards for the proper production and use of electric blankets.
- Federal Standards for Electric Blankets
- How does an Electric Blanket Work?
- Electric Blankets Construction
- Electric Blankets Features and Safety Aspects
- Heat Settings
- Additional Safety Features
- Automatic Shut-Off and Timers
- Carbon Fiber Wire
- Low-Voltage Operation
- Electric Blankets and Magnetic Field Concerns
- Improper Electric Blanket Maintenance and Use
- Improper Care
- Improper Use
- Electric Blankets Safe Storage
- Who Shouldn’t Use an Electric Blanket?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Federal Standards for Electric Blankets
The UL 964 standards regulate safety concerns related to electric beddings.
Blankets that have been tested according to UL 964 standards are safe to use and aren’t fire hazardous.
Some of the things covered with UL 964 are general use, wires, and cables, materials selection, photoelectric switches, low-voltage fuses, software in programmable settings, automatic electrical controls, etc.
Now, let’s learn how an electric blanket functions.
How does an Electric Blanket Work?
Despite what you think, an electric blanket isn’t a piece of bedding. It is a household appliance because it works similarly to all other devices in your home. You plug it in the outlet, and it uses your circuit.
Electric Blankets Construction
Electric blankets are multilayer and contain small and thin coil wires, capable of carrying heat through the fabric. That way, the wires transfer heat to the blanket, and the blanket transfers heat further to you. The electric blanket uses 120 V of electricity to heat the coil wires to the desired temperature.
With some quality blankets, you won’t even feel the wires. The wires will be so thin and so densely woven with the fabric, and the blanket texture wouldn’t be different from standard blankets.
Therefore, electric blankets are regular blankets, just better. They have the same purpose – to keep you warm, and they do it better than non-electric blankets.
Electric Blankets Features and Safety Aspects
However, similar to all electrical appliances, blankets come with user-friendly attributes, instructions to use and maintain, and safety features.
Modern electric blankets have multiple heat settings and can be set to 10 or more heat levels. Basic electric blankets can heat at low, medium, or high temperatures. You can check technical specifications to find out specific temperatures at each setting.
Electric blankets come with easy-to-use and read controllers. Some are more complex and come with timers, while others have just two or three buttons that you use to set the temperature.
Larger blankets, suitable for the king, queen, or California king beds come with two controllers.
Controllers are to be detached for maintenance and assembled back for use.
It is crucial to detach and assemble controllers back correctly, to prevent malfunctions that can cause fire or burns.
Additional Safety Features
The production of electric blankets improved, and now blankets are safer to use than ever before. Let’s have a quick overview of the most important safety features included in electric blankets.
The majority of modern electric blankets come with thermostats or temperature gauges, both user-friendly and safety-feature.
Blankets with thermostats can detect the current temperature of your body and the blanket itself and adjust the settings to reach or maintain the temperature you want.
Therefore, the blanket won’t raise the temperature needlessly to keep you warm. Working on lower temperatures significantly decreases the chances that the blanket will overheat.
Automatic Shut-Off and Timers
Features such as automatic shut-off and timers are quite useful. Automatic shut-off will, as the name suggests, make your blanket stop emitting heat when the internal temperature of the blanket reaches a certain level.
Because blankets are tested for high temperatures, the automatic shut off feature will prevent overheating or possible fire issues. In simple words, once the blanket reaches a dangerous level of heat, it will stop working before it can cause fire or malfunction.
Further, some blankets are programmable to stop emitting heat once they reach the temperature you have set. Perhaps, you need just a little more warmth in your bed, and you don’t need your blanket to run for hours.
Therefore, you can set it up to work only for a couple of minutes or hours.
Get more information about electric blankets:
Carbon Fiber Wire
The latest safety improvement is carbon fiber wires. These wires are commonly found in the vehicle industry, used in seat heaters. They provide additional safety and lower the risk of burns even more.
Carbon wires ensure durability and prolonged safe use of electric blankets.
However, there are some DIY projects and tutorials on how to make your own electric blanket from an old blanket and carbon wires. Only blankets that are manufactured in specific conditions that have passed quality control and are aligned with UL 964 standards are safe to use.
DIY electric blankets can cause fire, burns, and cause severe injuries.
Another excellent improvement in safety aspects of electric blankets is a low-voltage operation. Standard electric blankets operate at 120 V of AC current.
Low-voltage blankets convert to non-hazardous (and less potent) DC current.
Therefore, the low-voltage blanket doesn’t have enough power to keep the entire bed warm, but it can keep a person warm and cozy underneath the blanket. That way, there is no unnecessary waste of energy and heat.
Also, due to low-voltage settings, the blanket costs less to run. However, you will need several days to get used to a low-voltage blanket and to find the settings that work best for you.
Check one example of a quality low-voltage electric blanket:
Electric Blankets and Magnetic Field Concerns
Electric blanket emits a low-frequency electric and magnetic field, but at extremely low levels. The levels are so low that they don’t increase the risk of developing cancer.
Women often fear that using an electric blanket might cause breast cancer. Luckily, the recent study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology declared once and for all that electric blankets are not cancerous. According to the results of the study, the electric blanket doesn’t increase the risk for breast cancer, even if you use the blanket every night for numerous years.
Another study showed that increased risk of thyroid cancer has nothing to do with the use of electric blankets.
To conclude, electric blankets are not health hazards and don’t cause cancer.
Improper Electric Blanket Maintenance and Use
Each blanket is tested for safety and if passed the test, the blanket is released on the market. Blankets come with specific instructions for maintenance and warranty. Improper use and maintenance increase the risks of fires and injuries.
According to Electricblanketfires.com, in the USA, there are around 5.000 fires caused by electric blankets annually. The most common causes of fires are improper handling, manufacturing mistakes, and blanket wear and tear.
The most frequent injuries are heat contact, caught fire, smoldering, and electrocution. Therefore, it is essential to follow the instructions to keep your blanket safe for use.
On one side, people tend to avoid washing their blankets and cause the bacteria to develop, as well as unpleasant smell. An electric blanket needs to be washed, but only according to the instructions.
The electric blankets that are available at the moment are safe to wash in the washing machine and can be placed in a dryer.
Still, you should check product specifications to make sure washing in the machine won’t void the warranty. Before you put the blanket in the machine, inspect it for its condition. If wires are poking through the blanket, stop using the blanket immediately. Don’t wash it or use it ever again.
If the blanket is in good condition, detach controls using steps noted in the blanket manual.
Dry the blanket in a dryer but not for longer than 15 minutes, and use cold temperatures for both washing and drying.
First of all, don’t use an electric blanket with a waterbed, sofa bed, recliner, or hospital bed.
Also, never use an old electric blanket that shows signs of tears, discoloration, stains, poking wires, etc.
Besides, old blankets don’t have new and improved safety features such as thermostats or auto-shutoff features.
Next, you shouldn’t place anything on top of the blanket. Don’t sit or lay on your electric blanket because it can damage the wires.
Electric blankets should be kept outside the reach of children and pets.
Children can mess the controls and cause fire or get burnt, and pets can damage the wires, scratch them, or bite the cables.
Lastly, don’t even put the cable underneath the mattress. That way, cables can overheat and cause a fire as well.
Find out how experts test electric blankets for safety:
Electric Blankets Safe Storage
During the summer, you will most likely store your electric blanket away. It is important to do it right, to prolong the lifespan of your electric blankets.
The best way to store an electric blanket is to put it on the shelf, fold loosely, and unplug the cords and controls. Place it in the plastic bag and keep it in a dry place.
Who Shouldn’t Use an Electric Blanket?
An electric blanket is safe to use, but not all people should use it.
Pregnant women can experience body overheating due to hormonal changes. People with diabetes or people with any sort of nerve damages cannot detect when the temperature gets too hot.
Therefore, they can get burnt over an electric blanket. However, modern blankets can be set to operate at the lowest temperature. Also, you can turn the blanket in advance before you go to bed, and turn it off before you lay in bed. That way, the blanket temperature will drop gradually, lowering the risk of inadequate heat.
For similar reasons, electric blankets shouldn’t be used on babies and people with mobility challenges. They cannot detect and react if the blanket is malfunctioning which can cause burns and severe injuries.
Frequently Asked Questions
People who don’t understand the basic principles of electric blanket functioning may still fear them. Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions about electric blankets that will help you use them confidently.
If you are still wondering if you should get an electric blanket, don’t let the safety concerns convince you against buying it. An electric blanket is a safe electric household appliance that can help you get a full night of warm sleep!
Have you ever used an electric blanket? Did you enjoy it?
P.S. It can be an excellent present for the upcoming Holiday season!