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Exploring the Safety of Electric Blankets: What You Should Know

Tara Youngblood Jun 13, 2022

Are electric blankets safe?

An electric blanket is, well, electric. It heats. It warms you when you are cold and can be a welcome release from winter nights if you're living in colder climates. This sounds like a perfect solution to cold weather and saving on your heating bill, right? Well, mostly true and if you're on this page, you may be asking yourself, “Is my electric blanket safe to use?”

In most cases, when used appropriately and to manufacturer guidelines, electric blankets do not pose any significant health or safety risks. If used improperly, however, electric blankets can be unsafe and even dangerous. These risks can also go up if you have children or animals in the house. If you're worried about this, there are ways to keep warm and save on that heating bill.

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Are Electric Blankets Bad For You?

Below we will discuss if electric blankets are safe, the potential risks of electric blanket dangers, how they may be bad for you, and safety tips if you continue to use your blanket.

1. EMF Exposure

First and foremost, electric blankets have some side effects that can harm your health. Leading advocates for the disuse of modern electric blankets (due to the health risks) argue that using these products enhances your risk of a cancer diagnosis, [1] pregnancy problems for women, and decreased fertility in men.

The above can be associated with the EMF (electromagnetic fields) to which electric blanket users are exposed.

Like any electrical appliance, electric blankets and heating pads emit some EMFs. While scientists disagree on how harmful they can be, there's one thing that can't be argued: if a product emits EMFs, the last thing you want is for it to be on top of your body, especially for extended periods of time.

Many people remove EMF-emitting devices from their bedroom, including laptops, cell phones, and other devices and appliances.

Did You Know: Concerned about EMFs? Users can reduce EMF when enabling "Airplane Mode" with the Chilipad Dock Pro Sleep System, a cooling pad for the bed, and let the sleep system run quietly in the background.

Do Electric Blankets Cause Cancer?

Throughout the years, multiple studies have concerned the connection between cancer and the extremely low-frequency electric and magnetic fields (ELF-EMFs) generated by electric blankets. Still, no conclusive evidence from those studies links electric blankets to cancer.

Safety Study: Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields from Use of Electric Blankets and Other In-home Electrical Appliances and Breast Cancer Risk [2]

Heated Blankets and Pregnancy

Developing fetuses are susceptible to environmental conditions. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that pregnant women stop using electric heating blankets while pregnant to avoid any possible risk of complications.

Electric Blankets and Male Fertility

According to Dr. Desiderio Avila at Phoenix’s Ironwood Urology, radiation from electric blankets can possibly damage a woman’s eggs as well as a man’s sperm.

“Testing has revealed that radiation emitted from electric blankets is astronomically high, reaching over 70,000 times acceptable levels,” says Avila. [3]

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2. Are Heated Blankets a Fire Hazard?

There is a general rule for using electricity: there is always a potential for fire. The design of an electric blanket or heating pad is often constructed of wires and additional components; all it takes is one of those wires to fray or crimp, causing a life-threatening scenario. The fire hazard risk is minimal if you're using a new electric blanket.

According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), nearly 500 fires are caused yearly due to electric heating blankets and heating pads. If their over ten years old cause the majority of home fires.

Electric Blanket Fire Statistics: Ninety-nine percent of all-electric blanket fires started by blankets that were 10 years or older.

3. Possible Burns

Can I get burns from a heating blanket or heating pad? Heating products, especially those with high settings, also have the potential to burn users, with the most risk surrounding children and the elderly. The skin on older adults, when touched with heat, may be undetectable due to altered temperature receptors, leading to possible burning. [4] Children under the age of 3 may be unable to properly control the temperature settings on an electric blanket.

Individuals with diabetes are uniquely endangered since they often suffer from neuropathy and damage to the nerves. They often have a reduced sensation, usually in their hands and feet, and might not know their heating pad or electric blanket has overheated until it’s too late.

Blanket Safety Tip: “It’s important that anyone with reduced sensation, inability to communicate, or diminished capacity not use electric blankets.” should be wary [5] as well since you don’t want to raise their body temperature to more than 101 degrees Fahrenheit or it could be harmful to the baby.

4. Can I Use Heated Blankets Safely?

There are absolutely things you can do to decrease your risks of harm or injury when using these forms of electric heating to stay warm, decrease your heating bill or even to relax your muscles. It’s important to assess your heating pads and blankets before every use and to store them properly. It’s also important to be aware of the time you have them on your body and to not sleep with them turned on.

We realize that there are times when warmth is needed, relaxing and you may fall asleep while using them. If, after reading, you do have concerns about being able to use them safely, there are alternatives included below.

Fires Caused by Electric Blankets

Electric blanket fires often occur due to mechanical issues, including the following below:

  • Wires that are old and frayed
  • Holes in the fabric
  • Sparks from the wire, plug, or outlet
  • An on-and-off switch or temperature control improperly functioning
  • Absence of automatic shutoff

Before using electric heated blankets, please take a few moments to inspect it thoroughly before use. By taking a few extra seconds before use, you’ll be able to determine if there are any issues with the blanket that can result in injury or a house fire.

Electric Blanket Safety Tips

Although today’s electric blanket technology has improved in safety over the years, it still remains important to take precautions to ensure that the experience is as safe as possible.

Below you'll find a few safety guidelines you should follow to help prevent unsafe outcomes.

  • If the electric blanket was stored folded, please do not turn the blanket on.
  • Do not dry clean or wash the electric blanket.
  • To avoid accidentally turning it on, avoid plugging it into an outlet controlled by a wall switch.
  • Avoid using an electric blanket and heating pad at the same time.
  • Never use an electric blanket on an adjustable bed, water bed, pull-out sofa, or recliner. The cords and wires can become frayed or pinched.

At any time, if you are still concerned, it's best to unplug the blanket. When in doubt, be sure to read the safety tag on the heated blanket.

How to Use an Electric Blanket Safely

When using an electric blanket, follow the below precautions:

  • Take time to read the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Check for damage before using..
  • Refrain from lying or sitting on the electric blanket.
  • Turn off when not in use.
  • Turn off before you fall asleep.
  • Don’t allow pets on the blanket as they may damage the cords with their claws.
  • If the electric blanket doesn't have a built-in timer, unplug it before falling asleep.

How to Store an Electric Blanket Safely

When not using an electric blanket, it's crucial to store it properly to help preserve its lifespan and keep it in its optimal condition. Follow the steps below to store your blanket properly:

  • When it's time to store, the new electric blanket should never be folded.
  • Loosely roll. Rather than folding, gently roll the blanket for storage. Loosely rolled can help prevent damaging the heating elements of the blanket.
  • Never have anything placed on top that can damage the wires and crush the blanket.
  • Place power cords and blanket into a bag. This can help prevent damage and protect from dirt/dust.

Alternative to Electric Blanket

With the potential dangers associated with electric blankets, the question becomes, “are electric blankets our only option?” Fortunately, we are not without alternatives to a heating pad or heated blankets. If you have

If you are concerned about the safety of using an electric blanket, there are quite a few options and even safer alternatives to help keep you warm.

Below are a few safe options to explore.

Throw Blankets

That's right.— Try a good, old-fashioned, non-electric blanket to get snug as a bug. This continues to be the easiest way to warm up your bed and keep you warm all night long. When it's time to choose a blanket, make sure it will help you stay warm.

The warmest materials for blankets are cotton, wool, cashmere, and fleece. You can always double down on warmth by making sure your bed sheets are made from these warmer materials. Just be sure to follow the washing instructions with those wool and cashmere ones.

If one is warm, then two will certainly be warmer. If you're still cold, keep piling on the blankets until you're completely warm.

Water-Heated Blanket

A study found that an increased core temperature can cause a significant decline in sleep efficiency – the total time a person is asleep in bed. This can occur by creating a continuously heated environment, interfering with our body's sleep cycles.

With the help of the best cooling blanket, you can improve your sleep! The Cool Luxe is a 15-pound cooling weighted blanket that helps you settle into deep sleep that won't trap your body heat. How? Well, it circulates channels of water to neutralize ambient temperature from 55-115°F. It can be used as a heating blanket or weighted blanket.

Why Water? Water has natural thermal advantages that make our temperature-regulated weighted blanket very effective in heating and cooling.

Flannel Sheet

To help you keep your bed warm, try removing your standard sheets and replacing them with flannel sheets. Flannel traps heat in insulating air pockets. So, when in bed, your body heat is trapped, and the pockets help retain it. Basically, it insulates you while you’re sleeping.

Did You Know: Even though you aren’t in your bed, the pockets continue to retain the warm air.


Sometimes a warm set of pajamas is all it takes to keep cozy when it's cold out. There are plenty of fabrics to choose from to keep warm for a great night's sleep. Flannel, wool, cotton, fleece, silk, and thermal are just a few that help you stay warm during the cold weather, making getting out of bed during the night a little easier.

Sleeping Tip: If you’re concerned about getting too warm, flannel is the most breathable listed above.

Like Ralphie in the movie "Christmas Story," you could even channel your inner childhood and wear a bright pink bunny suit with big floppy ears to stay warm.

Sleeping with Socks

As strange as it seems, there are benefits to sleeping with socks. When thinking about wearing socks to sleep, it’s expected to think your feet would overheat. But, in reality, doing so may assist in lowering the body’s core temperature regulation, helping you achieve better sleep.

Not only does wearing them help you get better sleep, but a study reported that individuals who sleep with them fell asleep faster. [6]

Do You Wear Socks in Bed? Twenty-eight percent of people love wearing socks when they go to bed while 44% mentioned they hate going to bed with them on. [7]

Hot Water Bottles

Regardless of how old-fashioned it may be, the hot water bottle is still effective in keeping you warm. Holding a plastic container with boiling hot water at the foot of your bed is hardly peril-free.

In addition to the safety risks associated with using this antiquated method, there is also a time limit to the efficacy of this method.

The heat dissipates with every minute the hot water bottle is exposed to the laws of thermodynamics. But you won't have to worry about setting your alarm because once the heat wears off, the cold will wake you up!

Sleep Tip: Are you interested in giving this method a try? Leave the hot water bottle underneath your blanket for approximately 5-10 minutes before you plan to enter the bed. At this point, it's going to be nice and warm!

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are plenty of safe options to stay warm at night without worrying about the dangers of using electric blankets. Today, many people continue to use them as a heat source. But keep in mind that they should adhere to current safety standards and have an auto shut-off mechanism to prevent fires and overheating.


[1] Francine Laden, Lucas M. Neas, Paige E. Tolbert, Michelle D. Holmes, Susan E. Hankinson, Donna Spiegelman, Frank E. Speizer, David J. Hunter, Electric Blanket Use and Breast Cancer in the Nurses' Health Study, American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 152, Issue 1, 1 July 2000, Pages 41–49, View Study

[2] Zheng, T., Holford, T. R., Mayne, S. T., Owens, P. H., Zhang, B., Boyle, P., Carter, D., Ward, B., Zhang, Y., & Zahm, S. H. (2000). Exposure to electromagnetic fields from use of electric blankets and other in-home electrical appliances and breast cancer risk. American journal of epidemiology, 151(11), 1103–1111. View Study

[3] “Modern Electronics’ Affect Fertility.”, View Resource.

[4] “Are Electric Blankets Safe? How to Use Safely and Alternatives.”, 9 Mar. 2021, View Resource.

[5] Belanger, K., Leaderer, B., Hellenbrand, K., Holford, T. R., McSharry, J., Power, M. E., & Bracken, M. B. (1998). Spontaneous abortion and exposure to electric blankets and heated water beds. Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass.), 9(1), 36–42.

[6] Raymann, R. J., Swaab, D. F., & Van Someren, E. J. (2007). Skin temperature and sleep-onset latency: changes with age and insomnia. Physiology & behavior, 90(2-3), 257–266. View Study

[7] Abramson, A. (2019, June 13). The Science Behind Sleeping with Socks On. Apartment Therapy. View Resource