Are heated blankets bad for you?

Heated blankets are regular blankets that contain wires within that heat them up. They may pose a risk for fires and burns. They may also be more dangerous for infants, elderly people, diabetics, pregnant women and those who have nerve disorders.
Heated blankets are regular blankets that contain wires within that heat them up. They may pose a risk for fires and burns. They may also be more dangerous for infants, elderly people, diabetics, pregnant women and those who have nerve disorders.

Heated blankets can provide warmth and comfort during cold and wintery months. However, heated blankets pose a high risk of burn injuries and fires when the recommended precautions are not followed. Electric blankets pose a risk of miscarriage in pregnant women. A small study in 2007 also linked heated blankets to an increased risk of heatstroke.

You can minimize the risks of using the blankets by understanding the product usage and correct maintenance. These can help you use your blankets safely.

Heated blankets may get too hot or might cause burns if kept on one area of the body for too long.

Heated blankets can be dangerous in case of

  • Infants
  • Elderly
  • Diabetics
  • Pregnancy women
  • Those with nerve disorders

What are heated blankets?

Heated blankets are like regular blankets but with wires to heat them. This blanket also has a cord that needs to be plugged into a power source and a control dial. The average blanket uses about 200 to 400 watts of power. The wires, which are the heating elements, are evenly distributed between the layers of fabric. They heat up when the blanket is turned on. The fabric material may vary with different blankets. The most common fabrics used are

  • Soft fleece
  • Acrylic
  • Wool

The advantages of heated blankets include that they are

  • Portable
  • Inexpensive
  • Energy efficient
  • Provides uniform warmth
  • Customizable according to color, fabrics and sizes
  • Controllable with some having timers, automatic shut-off switches and temperature controls
  • Personal and create a heated cocoon without affecting anyone

The disadvantages of heated blanket include that they 

  • Can heat up to high temperatures and cause damage to internal body organs, vessels and body cells
  • Are a fire and burn risk if they are outdated models
  • Are easily damaged by pets or improper care
  • May burn if not handled properly, especially the newer models

How to prevent burns from heated blankets

The following are some useful tips to prevent burns including

  • Always buy a heated blanket with the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) mark to indicate the product’s safety.
  • Replace any cracked or worn heating blankets.
  • Replace older blankets even if they are in working condition. Blankets older than 10 years old are responsible for 99 percent of fires.
  • Make sure there aren’t any loose wires. The wires and attachments should fit properly.
  • Do not wash electric heating blankets that aren’t approved for machine wash or hand wash.
  • Replace blankets that contain displaced or damaged installed heating wires. You can do so by holding the blanket up to the light.
  • Avoid folding the blanket when it is turned on. Doing so can concentrate heat irregularly, increasing the chances of burns.
  • While storing the blanket, make sure to roll it up or gently fold the blanket with minimal creases. The best option would be to hang it up to avoid wire damage.
  • Never attempt to lie on top of the blanket. Doing so can cause damage to the electrical wires and cause injury or a fire hazard.
  • Refrain from dry cleaning a heating blanket. The chemicals used in the dry cleaning process can damage heating insulation and increase fire risk.
  • Avoid fire hazards by turning off the blanket when you are out of the room or not actively using it.

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Medically Reviewed on 2/11/2021
References
Medscape Medical Reference

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