There’s nothing quite like curling up on the couch with a toasty blanket, especially when the temperature drops. And run-of-the-mill blankets pale in comparison to ones that actually heat up.
But like any device you plug in, heated blankets should be used carefully if you’re hoping to avoid a fire, and that means taking a few safety precautions.
With so much potential for danger, you’d think electric blankets would cause countless fires on any given year, but the danger isn’t as widespread as you might expect.
“Electric-heated blankets don’t statistically reflect a significant home fire hazard. Considering that there is an average of nearly 360,000 home fires each year, fires started by electric blankets represented just .04 percent of those fires,” said Susan McKelvey, Communications Manager of the National Fire Protection Association.
At the same time, you should always exercise caution and take a few preventative measures before buying or using any electric blanket.
ELECTRIC BLANKET SAFETY TIPS
“Take a look at your blanket before use, particularly at the start of the season if it’s been in storage, to make sure it does not appear damaged, particularly with regard to the electrical wiring,” said McKelvey.
Naturally, you should never leave an electric blanket unattended while it’s being used, and should turn it off whenever you go to sleep.
“First, always check to make sure your product does not have an open recall. Checking recall status is one of the single most important things consumers can do when deciding to purchase new items,” said Maureen Vogel, a spokesperson for the National Safety Council.
You can also do the following:
Check to see if your product has been tested and approved by an independent testing laboratory, like Underwriters Laboratories.
Never buy an electric blanket from a secondhand shop or garage sale.
Make sure the blanket’s cord doesn’t create a tripping hazard.
“Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper usage, including whether the blanket can be used with other bedding or whether you should use it on its own,” Vogel said.
Last but not least, certain people should exercise extra caution while using a heated blanket.
“It’s important to remember that electric bed blankets should not used for an infant or an immobile person, or anyone insensitive to heat, such as a person with poor blood circulation,” said Joel Hawk, the Underwriters Laboratories Principal Engineer for electric bedding. “An over-heating condition may not be obvious to the user, but can result in a thermal burn if exposed long enough. Read and follow all instructions provided with the product.”