Electric Blanket Safety


The cold days of winter are upon us. This is the time of year when we look for those extra, economical ways to provide warmth in our homes. Portable heaters are often seen as the answer. But portable heaters can lead to tragedy if they are not used properly.

While electric blankets are an effective heat source, they may also be an ignition source for a fire.

The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department recommends that you follow these safety precautions with your electric blanket:

  1. Make sure your blanket has been approved by a nationally recognized testing agency.
  2. Turn your blanket off when not in use; most models have no internal temperature control to shut the blanket off when it gets too hot.
  3. Don't sit or lay on top of an electric blanket; this may damage the internal coils of the blanket and expose the heating element to a combustible material (the blanket).
  4. Never pile toys, pillows, or stuffed animals on top of the blanket. They allow the heat to become excessive and build up to a point where it may become an ignition source.
  5. Don't ball the blanket up and leave it on. This will also allow an excessive heat build up within the blanket.
  6. Don't wash an electric blanket. The twisting, tugging, and turning action of the washing machine will most certainly damage the internal coils.
  7. Be careful when folding the blanket to protect the internal coils.
  8. Unplug your blanket if you see smoke coming from it or if you notice discoloration of the blanket, which indicates it is burning internally.

There is no way to inspect an electric blanket for internal damage. If you have any doubt about the safety of your blanket, discontinue using it. It can still be used as a regular blanket, without plugging it in.

Electric blankets are usually very safe and are widely used throughout the country. They begin to be a problem when they are misused or neglected.

Public Affairs and Life Safety Education Section
Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department
4100 Chain Bridge Road Fairfax, VA 22030
703-246-3801 or TTY 711

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