Electrical Safety Tips to Avoid Electric Blanket Hazards

[fa icon="calendar"] October 05, 2015 / by Home Services Expert

electric_blanketSmall children often form strong attachments to blankets, but adults are known to have their favorites, too.

Rather than finding warmth under a pile of blankets that can become twisted and disheveled, many Californians choose to plug in one electric blanket for unequaled warmth and convenience.

Many more cold-blooded adults would luxuriate in the warmth of electric blankets if they didn't harbor skepticism about their safety.

Some skepticism is well founded. Like space heaters, electric blankets can indeed pose a safety hazard – causing burns and even fires – if they are used carelessly or improperly.

But you can greatly reduce if not eliminate these hazards by following some sensible electrical safety tips while you set up, use and store an electric blanket.

With the help of The Electric Blanket Institute and Electrical Safety Foundation International, as well as the Seattle Fire Department which has responded to fire calls involving electric blankets, let put your fears to rest with some electrical safety tips – and maybe you to rest basking in the warmth of an electric blanket.

Regular safety checks can prevent accidents

Along with electric heating pads, electric blankets are involved in about 500 residential fires a year. Tellingly, almost all of the fires involve pads and electric blankets that are more than 10 years old.

This statistic ought to provide some important insight: it pays to do regular safety checks on an electric blanket and discard it if it:

  • Does not carry the endorsement of Underwriter's Laboratory

  • Exhibits dark or charred spots

  • Includes a cord or plug that is cracked, frayed or otherwise damaged

  • Includes a malfunctioning or broken control unit

  • Has exceeded its projected lifespan, which should be noted in the owner's manual, but is usually no more than 10 years

Set up an electric blanket safely

  • Do not use an electric blanket on adjustable beds, sofas, and recliners, including hospital beds, Murphy beds, and pull-out sofas. The heated wires could become pinched and/or overheated.

  • Do not run the control cords between the mattress and the box spring. Friction could damage the cord or electricity running through the cord could become trapped there, creating a fire hazard.

  • Spread out the electric blanket so that it lays flat. It should never be folded, rolled up or bunched up in any way.

Use an electric blanket safely

  • Exclude the following people from electric blankets: infants or small children, people with disabilities, someone who is immobile or cannot operate the control unit, or anyone highly sensitive to heat.

  • Place an electric blanket on top of you, not below you. Do not sit or lay on top of the blanket to avoid damaging the internal coils.

  • Do not place heavy objects, such as books and laptops, on top of an electric blanket to reduce the risk of overheating.

  • Keep pets – or at least those with sharp claws and teeth – away from an electric blanket. They could accidentally puncture the wire insulation or damage the wiring.

  • Never leave an electric blanket unattended for an extended period time – for example, longer than the time it takes to run to the bathroom or get a drink of water in the middle of the night.

  • Unplug an electric blanket immediately if you see or smell smoke or see sparks flying from it.

  • Turn off and unplug the electric blanket when you're done using it.

Store an electric blanket safely

  • Unplug the controls from the electric blanket and the wall.

  • Very loosely wrap the cords around the control unit. Be sure not to pinch the cords or place any amount of strain on them. Place the control unit in a small storage bag.

  • Fold the blanket in large, loose sections, again taking pains to avoid sharp folds and creases. Since you want to store your blanket on a top shelf, without anything sitting on top of it, you might wish to measure the space and fold the blanket to the appropriate dimension.

  • Place the electric blanket in a large storage bag. Place the small bag containing the control unit on top and place the large bag in a cool, dry place until you're ready to use the electric blanket again.

Electric blanket safety don'ts

  • Do not wash an electric blanket in a washing machine. The turning, twisting and tugging involved in a wash cycle will almost certainly damage the internal coils.

  • Do not dry clean or use a cleaning solvent on an electric blanket. Both could damage the heating wire insulation.

  • Never iron an electric blanket. The heat could melt the heating wire insulation.

Don't let a “little thing” like the lack of a nearby electrical outlet stop you from using an electric blanket. As a full-service home maintenance and repair company with a team of licensed Chico electricians, Experts In Your Home provides electrical safety tips to ensure that you can easily and safely enjoy an electric blanket during all the cold nights ahead.

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