Know the Fire Risks of Electric Blankets, Heating Pads

(OnFocus) The chilly temperatures means it’s time to bring out the electric blankets and heating pads.

However, 500 home fires are caused by improper use of these products, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI). Many of those fires involved electric blankets that were more than a decade old.

The most effective way to minimize the risk of a malfunction is to inspect the blanket material for frayed areas where wires may be exposed.

“The other thing is making sure it’s on a timer,” said Erik Jonas, fire prevention coordinator at Marshfield Fire & Rescue. “Most time out over a certain period, but it’s always best to unplug them when not being used.”

Other safety tips include avoiding folding an electric blanket while in use and not covering it with other blankets, which could cause it to overheat and potentially cause a fire. Electric blankets should also not be left on the entire night.

Heated mattress pads are another product where consumers should be aware of the potential fire risks. “It’s definitely important to read the manufacturing instructions on those to make sure the heating wires are compatible with whatever type of mattress material you have,” said Jonas.

Inspect and replace any heating pad or electric blanket that show signs of wear or have exposed wires.

“Anytime the integrity of the material is broken down, that’s just a spot where it could increase the likelihood of causing a fire,” said Jonas. “We want to minimize risk whenever we can.”