A cozy, warm electric blanket appeals to many people during the winter months. Electric blankets typically save money compared to turning up the heat when the temperatures drop, but they also present some dangers. Using an electric blanket according to the manufacturer's instructions helps decrease the risk for injury and other dangers of electric blankets.
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An electromagnetic field is created around any item that uses electricity, including electric blankets, according to Joseph Mercola, D.O. Appliances such as electric blankets typically produce extremely low frequency, or ELF, fields. There is disagreement about the effects of ELF fields, but Mercola suggests that the extended exposure to these fields that accompany the use of electric blankets may cause negative health effects, including an increased risk of cancer. Because of the close proximity to the body, the electromagnetic field of an electric blanket can penetrate the body several inches for hours at a time. The electromagnetic field may also cause problems to the fetuses of pregnant women who use electric blankets.
Overheating the body with an electric blanket is a risk of electric blanket use, particularly for those with diabetes and other medical conditions. A person with diabetes may have an insensitivity to heat that makes it difficult to tell that the blanket is too warm. This lack of sensation can result in burns in extreme cases.
Overheating the body when pregnant is another concern with electric blankets. A raised core body temperature may cause harm to the fetus, particularly in the first trimester, according to Pregnancy Today.
The electric cord connected to an electric blanket can present a fire or shock hazard if it becomes damaged. The Electric Blanket Institute recommends against placing the cord between the mattress and box springs. The friction may cause the cord to fray, increasing the risk of a fire. Heat generated from the cord when covered by the mattress or other items also increases fire risks. A pet clawing or chewing on the wire introduces a shock hazard.
Improper use of an electric blanket may make it a dangerous addition to your bed. Follow the washing instructions of the manufacturer exactly to avoid damage to the blanket. Avoid ironing an electric blanket, which may melt the wires inside. Bunching up the blanket or pinching the wires is another way consumers sometimes misuse the blankets. Misuse can increase the dangers of electric blankets.