Even though many people have only recently discovered them, electric blankets entered the market back in the early 1900s. They have become commonplace in the 21st century, but that doesn’t mean you can sleep with them all night.
Manufacturers encourage consumers to use electric blankets to warm their beds. Once your bed is sufficiently warm, you can ditch the electric blanket. First of all, most people don’t need these devices to stay on all night.
Secondly, using an electric blanket all night attracts a multitude of risks and side effects. Therefore, you should listen to the manual. It will recommend an appropriate duration for which you can use the blanket. You would be hard-pressed to find a brand encouraging consumers to leave the electric blanket on all night.
Can You Leave Electric Blanket On All Night? Is It Safe?
The practice is not safe. Electric blankets are electronic devices. Like every electronic device, these ones can start fires if they develop defects and malfunctions. Some heating pads have security features that cut the power whenever they detect a fault.
But you should only rely on those mechanisms during emergencies when unexpected circumstances have compelled you to use the heating blanket all night. But even in an emergency, you should take precautions to sidestep the risks associated with using an electric blanket all night.
What Happens If You Leave Your Electric Blanket On All Night?
Technicians and electricians warn against the use of electric blankets overnight because they associate devices with the following consequences:
Electric blankets are fire hazards. Take this story in The Local, where a 93-year-old Swiss man died because an electric blanket started a fire. Admittedly, such occurrences are not common. Electric blankets caused roughly 40 deaths in the US between 1992 and 2002.
Governments around the world wouldn’t permit the sale of electric blankets if the devices had a reputation for starting random fires. According to Healthline, electric blankets become fire hazards when they wear out and accrue damage. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about fires unless your blanket is old or worn out.
That being said, the chances of an electric blanket starting a fire increase when you use the item overnight. You’re not in a position to take countermeasures if a spark from a broken wire ignites your bedsheets.
2). Heat Stroke
Manufacturers don’t expect the electric blanket to keep you warm. Instead, they want the device to warm the bed. Once the bed attains a comfortable temperature, the traditional blanket will retain the warmth while you sleep.
Using an electric blanket to stay warm overnight is dangerous because you may overheat. A 2007 paper in The American Journal Of Forensic Medicine And Pathology (Yiwu Zhou, Ling li, Liang Liu, Dongmei Jia) studied two cases in which consumers died because they used electric blankets overnight.
The first subject was a 41-year-old man. The man and his wife were found unconscious in bed. The woman’s temperature was 40 degrees C. She recovered. But her husband died. The second subject was a 13-year-old girl with a rectal temperature of 41 degrees C.
You can’t rule out heat stroke when you sleep with an electric blanket, especially if the device increases the temperature setting because of a malfunction. Consumers can’t respond to such changes because they are fast asleep.
Some people have mobility issues. As such, even if they wake up, removing the blanket isn’t an option. This is why consumers are discouraged from pairing heating pads and blankets with children under three years of age.
3). Increased Risk Of Pregnancy Loss
Do electric blankets cause miscarriages and abortions? A team from Yale University explored the subject and concluded that overheating caused by an electric blanket could harm the fetus. The researchers encouraged pregnant women to apply caution by turning the blankets off before falling asleep.
The connection between electric blankets and miscarriages sounds strenuous. But before you dismiss it, consider this paper in Epidemiology that investigated the link between electric blankets and spontaneous abortions.
While the team in question couldn’t blame spontaneous abortions directly on electric blankets, they concluded that electric blanket use increased the risk of pregnancy loss. The increase is slight but, nonetheless, worth considering.
The last thing you want is to become that statistic that researchers cite whenever they highlight the dangers of prolonged electric blanket use.
Electric blankets generate an electromagnetic field. The studies connecting electromagnetic fields to cancer are even less certain than those blaming spontaneous abortions on electric blankets.
That said, you can’t afford to ignore those inconclusive results, especially when electric blanket manufacturers always warn consumers against sleeping under their products overnight. Don’t take the risk.
If you’re determined to leave your electric blanket on at night, you should do so while acknowledging the risks associated with the practice.
How Long Can You Leave Electric Blanket On For?
While it sounds insufficient, 20 minutes is more than enough, especially where continuous use is concerned. If you want to prolong your use of the electric blanket past this threshold, use it before you go to bed.
You can leave it running on the bed for an hour or more, depending on the ambient temperature. This will make the bed warm enough for you to sleep comfortably. The traditional blanket will trap the heat. You don’t have to reuse the heating pad after turning it off.
Do Electric Blankets Turn Off Automatically?
Some electric blankets have an automatic shut-off feature. You can program them to deactivate after a specific period. They may also turn off without your direct prompting once they exceed the maximum threshold set by the manufacturer.
These shut-off features are highly beneficial because they make overheating unlikely. Admittedly, blankets with automatic shut-off features can still start fires if they develop faults and the shut-off mechanism stops working.
The best course of action is to turn the electric blanket off before you sleep. Don’t take any chances.
Things To Consider Before Leaving Electric Blanket On All Night
You shouldn’t sleep on or under an electric blanket all night. But if your circumstances have forced you to do so, try to keep the following in mind:
1). Automatic Shut-off Feature
Make sure the blanket has a shut-off feature that turns the product off after a while. This prevents the blanket from staying on all night. Most modern high-end blankets have a shut-off mechanism. This doesn’t apply to their older, cheaper counterparts.
2). Avoid Unique Beds Such As Waterbeds
The mattress should allow the blanket to stay as flat as possible. You don’t want to crimp the blanket because doing so can damage the wires, and damaged wires are more likely to start a fire. You don’t have to tuck these blankets into the corners and edges of the bed.
3). Don’t Place Your Body Directly Against The Electric Blanket.
This is particularly important where heating pads are concerned. Place a layer between your body and the pad. This reduces the chances of overheating.
4). Don’t Sleep On A Defective Heating Blanket Overnight.
Look for signs of wear and tear, such as burn marks and exposed wires. Discard damaged blankets. Some technicians can fix these devices, but you can’t trust them to keep you warm at night without starting a fire, especially if some of the wires are crimped and exposed.
If you don’t have the money to buy a replacement, don’t leave the blanket on at night. Use it for the few minutes it takes to warm your bed, and then you can turn it off. If things go wrong, you can deactivate the blanket.
5). Follow The Manual
What do the instructions say? Electric blankets have documentation that explains the best way to use them. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. They will tell you how to leave the item on at night without causing harm. If they discourage you from leaving the blanket on, you should listen.
You can’t take advantage of your warranty or insurance policy if a fire starts because you ignored the manufacturer’s warning.
6). Don’t Allow Vulnerable Individuals To Use An Electrical Blanket Ovenight
Don’t allow vulnerable individuals in your home to leave the electric blanket on at night. That includes pregnant women, senior citizens, young children, and diabetic patients.
7). Don’t Allow Your Pets To Sleep With An Electric Blanket Ovenight
Pets are just as vulnerable as children. Sleep Advisor doesn’t want your pet to sleep with an electric blanket at night because they may overheat. You can’t trust them to throw the blanket off when temperatures spike.