ARE ELECTRIC BLANKETS SAFE? HERE'S WHAT EXPERTS HAVE TO SAY January 29, 2019 | Safety | Winter , bedroom , living room , electrical , appliances , pets Electric blankets have come a long way since the first automatic model hit the market in 1936. But even with the modern versions of today, is it really a good idea to curl up under an electric blanket at night? We’ve done our research, and here’s what you need to know. Under Blankets and Over Blankets First, let’s distinguish between the two types of electric blankets available for purchase: under blankets and over blankets. Under blankets, also known as heating pads, are placed directly on a mattress, while over blankets are just like traditional blankets you would cover yourself up with. We’ll go ahead and put one huge safety concern out there right off the bat: Using both an under blanket and an over blanket at the same time can create a major fire hazard, so you should only ever go with one or the other. Common Concerns We should exercise caution when it comes to anything that plugs into the wall, but electric blankets seem to have a reputation that precedes them. The good news is that at least with modern electric blankets, that reputation is, for the most part, undeserved. An average of 360,000 home fires occur each year, and electric blankets are known to cause just .04 percent of them. While it’s hard to ignore even the smallest percentage of risk, you can greatly reduce electric blanket hazards by following recommended usage directions. Safety Guidelines Here are general safety guidelines for using electric blankets: Never use electric blankets with infants, small children or those who are otherwise not able to operate the blanket’s controls directly. The elderly should also exercise caution. Keep pets away from electric blankets. Not only could pets easily overheat, they could damage the blanket with a nail or tooth and damage the wiring. It’s important to never buy a secondhand electric blanket, even if you spot a great deal at a thrift store or garage sale. You can never be sure what sort of damage the blanket may have sustained in the past, how old it is or what kind of outdated technology it might be using. Remember, blankets that are 10 years or older account for 99 percent of all electric blanket fires. Don’t use a wet electric blanket and avoid having liquids around your blanket, even when it’s not in use. Be careful how you run the cords. Under the bed is best so that you don’t create a tripping hazard, but it’s also crucial not to create a situation where any kinks or friction damage might occur. Never run the cord between the mattress and box springs. Do not use an electric blanket with adjustable furniture of any kind. This includes mechanical beds that raise and lower, pull-out sofas, recliners or Murphy beds. The cord of the blanket could get pinched, creating a fire hazard. As mentioned above, never use a heating pad and a heating blanket at the same time. This could cause overheating and a fire hazard. It’s also important not to use an electric blanket with a heated waterbed. Never bunch, fold or ball up an electric blanket. It should always lie flat so that the heat in the middle has a place to escape. Watch what hobbies you do around an electric blanket. A sewing needle, for example, could puncture the wire insulation and damage it. Don’t keep an electric blanket on any one part of your body for too long, and try to avoid allowing the blanket to make contact with bare skin. Follow cleaning instructions carefully. You should never iron an electric blanket or dry clean it, and there may be specific care instructions for the washer and dryer. Pay attention to your electric blanket to make sure it’s operating correctly. If anything seems off, discontinue use immediately and contact the manufacturer’s customer service line. Find an NPI inspector near you for a comprehensive home inspection. Our NPI inspectors can assess your home’s major systems and create a comprehensive report with high-quality photos. Call an inspector near you today to get the answers you need to invest with success.