Using your electric blanket safely
Energy Safe Victoria recommends checking your electric blanket annually to ensure it’s in safe working order.
You can do this by placing it flat on your bed then checking that there are no creases, kinks or broken heating wires in the blanket, and the controller plugs cords are in good condition.
If you find damage, the blanket should not be used by you, or anyone again. For that reason, the best thing you can do is unplug the blanket and cut the power cord to put it out of commission for good.
While it can be tempting on freezing nights, Fire Rescue Victoria also advises you don’t leave electric blankets on while sleeping.
FRV deputy commissioner, Michelle Young, says that “while the dangers of fire are very real, there is a lot you can do to protect yourself, your family and your home. People should always ensure that they turn off electric blankets prior to getting into bed.”
Other safety measures include obeying all manufacturer’s instructions that came with your blanket, never buying electric blankets second-hand, fitting your blanket flat and tight on across your bed, and not storing it under heavy items (which can damage wires).
Are electric blankets safe for children?
Children in particular are prone to allergies and asthma, which means having quilts and doonas filled with down and feathers not an option on the chilly nights.
While an electric blanket is an appealing option to help your little ones get a cosy night’s sleep, make sure you take all the proper precautions before putting one on their bed.
Modern electric blankets are generally safe for use for children of bed-wetting age as they come protected with plastic coverings over wires. However, as electric blankets are usually stored for long periods of time over the warmer months, this can lead to degeneration of the wiring – so even if you have bought one recently, make sure you check it for damage before using.
Parents are also advised to make sure that the power outlet is far enough away from the bed to ensure any liquids cants travel the length of the cord and cause outages.
For parents of young children who are known for deep sleeping, make sure the electric blanket is turned off before going to sleep to avoid over-heating during the night. While burns or harm of that nature are very unlikely, dehydration and overheating are potential risks.
Electric blankets are not recommended for babies as well-fitted sleeping bags with the correct TOG rating will ensure a warm night sleep for your bub.
Other ways to keep warm
If electric blankets aren’t for you, there are other ways to stay warm while sleeping.
You wouldn’t wear your summer clothes in winter, so make sure you’re not relying on your summer bedding to keep you warm in the colder months.
Flannel and fleece are two materials known for their ability to insulate and trap body heat and can be purchased as throw blankets, top sheets, fitted sheets, quilt covers, pillow cases and pyjamas.
Hot water bottles are another method of keeping toasty in bed, but they’ve a few safety precautions to be aware of too.
Don’t use freshly boiled water to fill the bottle – let the water stand for a few minutes after boiling before filling no more than two-thirds full. You should also consider a cover for the bottle (or wrap it in a clean tea towel) to avoid direct bodily contact with the heat.