If your electric blanket has seen its better days, especially if it's a decade old or more, it's time to replace it. Throw it out and don't donate it, as it could be a fire hazard. Older electric blankets are more apt to be worn through or damaged, and they and their 100 feet of wiring account for thousands of worldwide injuries and deaths each year.
Fans of toasty and warm beds should inspect their electric blanket frequently, regardless of its age. Occasionally, a newer blanket or even one that's fresh out of the bag could have a wiring issue, so always test your blanket before using for the first time. Once you start using it, inspect it often.
When inspecting your plug-in blanket or throw, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Division recommends looking for cracks or breaks in wiring, plugs, and connectors. Also look for dark, charred, or frayed spots on either side of the blanket. If your electric blanket has any of these characteristics, throw it away, as it may be a potential fire hazard.
When purchasing a new one, make sure it has been tested by a reputable testing laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Also be sure to read and follow the manufacturer's instructions. When using, it's better to warm your bed with the blanket before going to bed (don't leave it unattended, though), and turn it off before climbing in.
Safe Electricity reminds you, even if your electric blanket is in good shape, it still requires a little extra care compared to a traditional blanket.
- Don't allow anything on top of the blanket when in use, like a comforter, bedspread, or even pets, which may cause the blanket to overheat. In addition, pet claws can cause rips and tears, which may expose the wiring and create shock and fire hazards.
- Do not use an electric blanket that is wet, soiled or wrinkled.
- Do not tuck in an electric blanket, which can cause excessive heat build-up.
- Don't store the blanket folded. Instead, roll it for storage, which puts less stress on the internal wires. A better option is to store flat if you can, such as on a spare bed.
- Do not leave any heating appliance unattended.
- Don't wash it often. Repeated washings can damage the electrical circuitry. (Follow proper instructions when washing; usually the spin cycle is not recommended.)
- Do not sleep or lounge on top of the electric blanket.
Learn more about heated appliance safety and other safety tips at SafeElectricity.org.
Article and safety tips image courtesy of SafeElectricity.org. with modifications by Valley Rural Electric Cooperative, Inc.