Is the Jury Out On “Are Electric Blankets Bad For You?”

are electric blankets bad for you

Are electric blankets bad for you? I’ve heard conflicting reports about the safety of electric blankets. I’ve heard first-hand accounts of house fires caused by electric blankets. I’ve heard of people being electrocuted in their sleep! So what is the truth?

Do you assume that electric blankets are tested to the highest standards of safety? My research found out the answer to some important questions, ‘Are electric blankets safe?’, ‘Are electric blankets safe to leave on all night?’ and ‘Are electric blankets bad for your health?’.

The Origins Of The Electric Blanket

It all started in the early 1900s as a very basic heated pad or quilt. Doctors prescribed tuberculosis patients get as much fresh air as possible. This extended to the having them sleep outside at night. Harsh cold winters meant some patients were in beds covered in snow. The first electric blanket kept these poor souls from freezing overnight.

Someone saw the commercial potential of this pad. By the 1930s ‘heated quilts’ were available to the general public.

These early models were far from safe. Burn injuries were the most common problem. Preventing a fire is what most of the research and development has focused on.

Letting Go Of The Old

Old electric blankets have a far higher risk of causing fires. 99% of electric blanket-related fires are caused by old electric blankets (source:New York City Fire Department). Are electric blankets bad for you? Yes, if they are older than 10 years old.

Are electric blankets safe to leave on all night

Electrical boxes exposed outside rust away going unused

Over time there is physical damage to the components of the mattress. We fold, bunch and tuck in our electric blankets. This can damage the electrical elements. Which then increases the risk of combustion and electrocution.

Here is another reason older electric blankets are much more dangerous. Older technology is not as effective as modern technology. Safety features evolve with time to keep you safer.

Key Safety Features

Are electric blankets bad for you? Put your mind at ease with these safety features.

Thermostats and rheostats

Are electric blankets safe to leave on all night? Yes. There are 2 ways to control the temperature of the electric blanket.

How does the blanket stay at the correct temperature at night? The thermostat. It measures the heat of the blanket. It measures the ambient temperature and the temperature of the sleeper.

You know you can turn the heat up or down to your preferred level? This is the rheostat.

Automatic shut-off function

People forget to turn off their blankets when they get up in the morning. That’s where the automatic shut-off function is handy. This function will switch off the blankets after 10 hours of use. It reduces the risks of overheating and fire.

Durable, flexible design

Modern electric blankets are made to stand up to a lot of abuse.

  • Flexible PVC coating insulates the interior copper wires.
  • A polyester shell also protects these copper wires.
  • You can wash most electric blankets in the washing machine.

You can now use electric blankets on a couch or chair. This was unheard of before.

Built-in safety circuits

Safety circuits will detect a broken wire or open circuit. It will then trip a fuse. This way the electricity will stop reaching the blanket.

Be careful. Make sure the safety circuit works for the entire length of wiring.

Some models limit the safety circuits to the first 50 feet of wiring. This will increase the risk of burns, fire and electrocution.

The news report below talks about fire danger in Sunbeam electric blankets. This danger lead to better fire safety control built-into their blankets.

Low voltage

In 1992 there was a scare about electromagnetic fields. More on that later. In response, something new happened to electric blankets. They were manufactured with transformers. This converted electricity to very low voltage. And it reduced the risk of fire. It meant that if a wire is broken, the sleeper would barely feel a shock.

Are Electric Blankets Bad For You?

Electromagnetic fields scare alot of people. When an appliance has electricity running through it, it gives off an energy. Are electric blankets bad for you? Are electric blankets bad for your health?

Low levels of this energy were believed to be safe for humans. This may not be the case according to some recent studies. The research isn’t conclusive. Are low levels of exposure to electromagnetic energy safe for us? We still don’t know.

Lying under an electric blanket wraps us up in an electromagnetic field for several hours. This level of exposure concerns many people.

Are electric blankets safe for your health? If you are an expectant mother, avoid the use of electric blankets.

Fears about electromagnetic fields energy damaging one’s health continues. Many manufacturers have dropped the voltage to a much lower level. Most modern electric blankets work using 12-24 volts.


So, are electric blankets bad for you? The answer isn’t black and white. Modern electric blankets are very unlikely to go on fire. Just remember to discard them if you see any visible damage. If your blanket is more than 10 years old, replace it.

Newer blankets are unlikely to give you an electric shock. Another health issue —electromagnetism—is still a potential risk.

The effects of prolonged exposure to electromagnetism are limited and inconclusive. We are always on. Cellphones. Computers. Think of all the other electric appliances in your life. We are potentially putting ourselves at risk in the long term.