Fire damage is more likely to occur during winter than any other season. Heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires, which is why proper use is a must. This is especially true for electric blankets.
An average of 5,000 house fires are caused by electric blankets every year. These fires typically occur due to any one of the following reasons:
- Manufacturing mistakes; i.e., improperly installed wiring, faulty control unit. This cause is rather uncommon, and the least often occurring cause in cases of electric blanket fires.
- Improper handling of the electric blanket unit, such as prolonged use or unsupervised use in situations concerning small children or elderly persons with physical handicaps.
Normal wear and tear, which can cause the wire implements or other components to fray, break, or become otherwise damaged and susceptible to malfunction.
99% of all fires and other accidents related to electric blankets and heating pads are due to units that are 10 years old or more. You should do regular safety checks and replace old blankets as a way to prevent fire and injuries.
These are some recommended tips to stay safe when using an electric blanket:
Read the Directions
Electric blankets come with specific instructions for care and use, and when you don’t adhere to these, you create additional hazards for yourself.
Watch the Cord
With most appliances, such as lamps and televisions, manufacturers warn not to run the cord beneath the rug or carpet. This is also true of electric blankets. You don’t want to run the cord under a rug, carpet, other blankets or comforters, or between the mattress and box spring.
Also, the cord can get bent, leading to damage or stopping the electricity from flowing properly. This causes hot spots, gathering of heat in one place, which then becomes a hazard for overheating and fires.
Lay it Flat
Electric blankets are full of components that can react poorly if you mistakenly stack them. Creasing the blanket by accident can cause problems as well, so you should never use it on movable beds that could crunch various parts of the blanket. That includes adjustable beds, Murphy beds, pull out sofas, reclining chairs, and hospital beds. Any of these could unknowingly end up pinching a heating wire or control cord, which then results in the mechanisms being damaged or trapping heat increasing the risk of fire damage.
Nothing on Top
You should never place them between the mattress and the box spring or lay other blankets on top of them since this traps heat and causes overheating.
Folding your electric blanket even when it’s off can damage the components inside. Electric blankets work off resistance. They have a resistance wire that resists electrical current and creates heat as a byproduct.
Additional Safety Tips
These are some additional 99% of all fires and other accidents related to electric blankets and heating pads are due to units that are 10 years old or more. You should do regular safety checks and replace old blankets as a way to prevent fire and injuries. Here are some safety tips on how to use an electric blanket safely:
- Don’t use an electric blanket with a heating pad or electric mattress pad. The increased heat from multiple products can lead to overheating of all devices as well as the core body temperature.
- Never allow the cords of your electric blanket to be wrapped around the controls, as this can damage both the cord and controls. When storing your electric blanket, it is best to loosely loop the cord.
- Don’t use pins or sharp objects around the device. You could accidentally puncture the insulation of a heating wire and cause a short circuit or fire hazard.
- Do not send your electric blanket for dry cleaning. The solvents and chemicals used in dry cleaning will also damage the insulation for the heating wires.
- If you notice anything unusual about the operation of your electric blanket, turn it off immediately and seek an expert opinion. Alternatively, throw it out and replace it with a new one. This should be done at least every ten years, regardless of apparent condition.
At Restoration Authority safety is our top priority, and we hope these tips will lead to safe electric blanket use. While it can’t be removed completely, the chance of fire damage caused by an electric blanket can be greatly reduced with proper use.