During the cold of winter, an electric blanket may provide extra warmth in your home. If so, the Seattle Fire Department’s Public Education Unit wants everyone to please consider several important safety tips to assure your electric blanket does not start a fire.
1. Make certain your blanket is approved by a nationally recognized testing agency.
2. When not in use, turn your blanket off. Most models have no internal temperature control that turns the heat off when the blanket temperature gets too hot.
3. Place your blanket on top of you, not below you. Sitting or lying on an electric blanket may damage the internal coils of the blanket, exposing the heating element to a combustible material (the blanket).
4. Never place items such as books, pillows, or stuffed animals on top of the blanket. These items can trap the heat, leading to elevated temperatures and serve as a source of ignition.
5. Keep the blanket flat, not crumpled or in a ball. If left on, a crumpled blanket allows for excessive heat build-up within the blanket. Always turn the blanket off when leaving the room.
6. Do not wash an electric blanket. The twisting, tugging, and turning action of the washing machine will most certainly damage the internal coils.
7. Unplug your blanket if you see or smell smoke coming from it. Discoloration of the blanket may indicate the heating elements are burning internally.
If you have any doubt about the safety of your blanket, discontinue using it.
Electric blankets are usually a safe way to add a little warmth and are widely used throughout the country. However, this is only true if blankets are well maintained and properly used.