Electric blankets are easy to use even if you’ve never had one before. Just plug it in, switch it on, set your preferred temperature and that’s it.
Of course there’s a bit more to it than that. For example, do you sleep on it or cover yourself with it? Can you leave it on all night? Can you throw it in the washer?
We’ll answer all those questions in this article. But first, a quick primer on how electric blankets work.
How do electric blankets work?
An electric blanket looks pretty normal on the outside except for the cable running out of it. It’s soft, cozy and uses the same materials used in normal blankets such as fleece and cotton.
Within the soft fabric however, things look much different. There is a network of insulated wires all around the blanket.
When you plug in the blanket, these wires heat up as electricity passes through them. This heat then transfers to the surrounding fabric which in turn warms up the bed.
Most electric blankets offer at least 3 heat settings: low, medium and high. Others come with a thermostat that you can use to set a specific temperature.
Queen and King Size electric blankets often have dual controls, meaning you can control the temperature of each side of the bed separately.
Most electric blankets also come with a safety feature that automatically cuts electric current after a certain amount of time or when a certain temperature has been exceeded.
Others come with a timer that lets you set how long the electric blanket will stay on. This is handy if you don’t want it to stay on all night.
Setting up an electric blanket
First make sure that your bed is near a power outlet. Do this before you even order the blanket. Also check the cord length and make sure it will reach the nearest socket.
When you receive the blanket read the user manual for safety and usage instructions.
If you bought an overblanket, it’s supposed to go on top of you. You cover yourself with it like a normal duvet.
If you bought an underblanket, it goes on top of the mattress under a sheet. You sleep on it similar to a heated mattress pad.
Once you place the blanket on the bed, plug it in. Then switch it on using a remote control or heat control unit.
If the blanket has temperature settings, set your preferred temperature. If it’s available, also set the timer.
Most people prefer pre-warming the bed. 2 hours before bedtime, you switch on the blanket so that the bed is toasty and warm by the time you go to sleep. You can then switch it off. The blanket will retain that heat until morning.
Electric blanket safety
Electric blankets are generally very safe. They operate at a very low voltage with minimal risk of electric shock or fire.
Many also have built-in safety measures to prevent over-heating.
Most of the safety responsibility lies with you. So here are some of the most important don’ts when it comes to using an electric blanket.
- Never use an electric blanket with infants or children under the age of 12. Overheating and suffocation is an especially major risk for infants who shouldn’t be sleeping with any blanket or duvet to begin with.
- Be extra-cautious if you are pregnant. Use the blanket at the lowest heat setting to reduce the risk of miscarriage and ensure your baby develops normally. To be safe, avoid using an electric blanket (or just turn off the heat) in the first 7-12 weeks of pregnancy and in the last month (in case your water breaks and causes an electric shock).
- While many electric blankets have a safety auto-off switch, it’s still not a good idea to leave the heat on through the night. Either pre-warm the bed before you go to sleep or set a timer for the heat to turn off at a certain time during the night.
- Do not use an old electric blanket. It may have exposed wires that are a safety hazard. On the same note, never buy a used electric blanket.
- Do not use an electric blanket if you have a health condition that makes you insensitive to heat.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when you need to clean the blanket. You’ll most likely need to remove the electric components before you put it in the washer.