This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation
Blankets are warm, but on super chilly nights, they might not be warm enough. That’s where an electric blanket can come in handy. The most current electric blankets are smart, efficient, and safe. Keep the following suggestions in mind when shopping for one.
- Pick One That Feels Soft. The outer layers of the blanket can be made of cotton, polyester, fleece, or another fabric, so choose whichever one suits your taste best. After all, you'll want to be comfortable. Hold it in your hands to ensure that you can’t feel the wires through the fabric (most blankets these days have wires that you can’t feel at all).
- Look at the Temperature Settings. Some electric blankets take 45 to 60 minutes, or sometimes longer, to heat up. Also, see if it has multiple temperature options, since some nights will be colder than others. And find out whether different sides of the blanket have different temperature settings, which is a perk if you share a bed with someone who prefers a cooler temperature than you. Finally, check on whether or not it is designed to heat evenly. For instance, some electric blankets can detect hot and cold spots and use that information to determine where the heat goes. Choose an electric blanket that has the features that you need.
- Find One That's Energy Efficient. An electric blanket does use electricity, so you’ll want to lower the heat in your house slightly to make up for it. If possible, find a blanket that is energy efficient. For example, one that costs seven cents a night is good, while 11 cents a night is on the high side.
- Make Sure That It’s Washable. That way, the controls can be detached from the blanket and you can just throw it in your washing machine. Since the blanket is likely to get dirty and sweaty over time, this feature is a must.
- Think About Cost. What are you willing to spend on an electric blanket? Size makes a difference. You can find a small electric throw for about $60, but bed-sized blankets will usually run you $100 to $150.
- Get One That's Low-Risk. The safest electric blankets have automatic shut-offs, meaning that you can fall asleep with it on and not worry that you will forget to turn it off in the morning.
Once you’ve bought an electric blanket, there are a few extra safety points to keep in mind.
- Don't Let Animals Near It. While the newest electric blankets use a much lower voltage than older ones, they still have electricity running through them. As a result, don’t use one if your pet sleeps in your bed with you—dogs and cats can chew or claw a blanket and injure themselves (or you).
- Keep an Eye on Your Skin. Burning yourself is unlikely but possible, so, if the blanket's instructions allow, place a sheet between the blanket and your body. And tell your dermatologist if you develop any unusual skin symptoms, such a red or purple color or any webbed or spotted formations. You might need to use a moisturizer to prevent dry skin or stop using the electric blanket if it's causing a permanent change in your pigmentation.
- Don't Bunch It Up. The blanket should never be scrunched up, because that could damage the heating wires.
- Be Careful With the Cord. Never place the electric cord between the mattress pad and the box spring, because the friction that it can cause is a fire hazard.
- Know When Not to Use It. Do not use the electric blanket if the wiring or electric cord shows any sign of damage or the blanket is heating unevenly.
- Never Let a Baby or Child Use It. It's simply not safe for young people.
- Store It Wisely. Turn off and unplug the electric blanket when it's not in use.