Electric blankets can keep you warm and cosy in winter, but are they safe?

webnexttech | Electric blankets can keep you warm and cosy in winter, but are they safe?

With the cold wave making the northern parts of the country shiver, people are resorting to extra measures to keep themselves warm, comfortable, and cosy.While some use heaters, thermal clothing, socks, and gloves to fight the dipping temperatures, others go the extra mile and invest in an electric blanket to sleep without worrying about the cold.
But what are these?
Allow us to explain!
Simply put, it is a blanket containing integrated electrical heating wires that carry an electric current to keep the blanket warm.
It is of varied types, including under blankets, over blankets, throws, and duvets.
“Electric blankets use less energy than any room heater while providing heat through built-in wires.
Electric blankets are economical since they only need to run once, for 10 to 20 minutes, before being turned off.
Due to the warm air being trapped behind your bed sheet, you will stay warm the entire night.
They have basic safety settings and accessible temperature adjustments.
If used according to the right directions, these electric blankets are incredibly cosy and useful,” said Dr R R Dutta, HOD, Internal Medicine, Paras Hospitals, Gurugram.
How can they benefit you?
“Possible benefits of using heated/electric blankets include providing warmth and comfort during cold weather, helping improve sleep, and reducing the need to use other heating sources at home, which can result in energy savings,” Dr Anantha Padmanabha, Consultant, Internal Medicine, Fortis Hospital, Nagarbhavi said.
Adding, Dr Dutta said, “Since warmth naturally relaxes your body and mind, sleeping with a heated blanket can improve your mood.
Heated blankets are not intended to relieve severe pain, but they can increase blood flow, which helps ease certain minor aches, pains, and cramps.” As fascinating and comfortable as they sound, are they safe?
Elaborating on the same, the expert said, “Although there are safety issues with electric blankets, there is very little danger of fires or burns if you have a brand-new electric blanket.
The same cannot be said for outdated, defective, or misused electric blankets, which account for most occurrences in which electric blankets burn humans.” Dr Dutta said that the risk of fire and burns is decreased by the safety features included on modern electric blankets, like a rheostat control.
“It’s possible that older blankets lack internal temperature controls that would turn them off before they became too warm,” he said.
Agreeing, Dr Rajiv Dang, Senior Director and HOD, Internal Medicine and Medical Director, Max Hospital Gurgaon highlighted the need to check the quality of electric blankets before buying them.
“Ensure that you are buying blankets from a reputed company and not from unknown ones that you land up into some electrical injuries and related things,” he said, adding that the biggest possible issue is loss of temperature control along with the risk of electric injuries.
However, the more insidious problem, according to Dr Dutta, is that by sleeping under a running electric blanket, you are sleeping under an intense electromagnetic field (EMF) that is basically at no distance from your body.
“This can mess with your body’s own much weaker bioelectric field, and medical science recommends that you limit your time of exposure to electromagnetic fields and increase the distance between you and the source of the electromagnetic field.
In the case of an electric blanket, the wires that cause the field will be laying against your skin for about 8 hours a night.
So if you value your health, you are better off not sleeping under a running electric blanket,” he explained.
Some dos and don’ts to keep in mind *Switch off your blanket when not in use.
*A single electric blanket should be used at a time.
*Avoid using a heating pad and an electric blanket together.
*Don’t plug your blanket into an electrical outlet that is controlled by a light switch to prevent unintentional activation.
*An electric blanket shouldn’t be washed.
*An electric blanket shouldn’t be dry-cleaned.
*Turn off your blanket before going to bed if it doesn’t have a timer.
*Atop an electric blanket, never sit or lie.
*Electric blanket edges shouldn’t be tucked under the mattress.
*The top of an electric blanket shouldn’t be covered with cushions, blankets, books, toys, or other items.
*A hot water bottle and an electric blanket shouldn’t be used simultaneously.
*A wet electric blanket should not be plugged in or turned on.
*Avoid purchasing a used electric blanket.
Avoid using blankets with extreme wear indicators including tears, stains, scorch marks, frayed electrical cords, or broken temperature controls.
Who should avoid?
“Elderly people and people with Parkinson’s disease (as they may have difficulty with temperature regulation) should avoid using electric blankets.
It is not advisable for pregnant women to use electric blankets, instead, they can use room warmers,” Padmanabha said.
Dr Dutta added that your doctor might advise against using heating pads and electric blankets if you have diabetes.
“If you have diabetes and wish to use an electric blanket, think about warming up your bed first before bedtime, then turning it off or taking it off before getting into bed.
You may not feel the heat well if your blood circulation is weak.
Before utilising a heating pad or electric blanket, speak with your doctor about the same issues,” he said.
Finally, those with respiratory issues should avoid covering themselves head-to-toe with a heated blanket.

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