Winter has finally come! It is that time of the year when you take out jackets and blankets to warm your chilled-to-the-bone body.
Or, if you are contemplating of giving your special someone something nice this Christmas, a heated blanket might be a good choice.
How does it work?
Also known as electric blankets, many people use these as an alternative to heaters. They’re low maintenance but still provide the same warmth you’d get from a heater. Furthermore, most consumers find that using a standard heated blanket saves more money.
While this cannot fully replace or surpass a heater’s capacity, heated blankets can always be counted on to give warmth to those covered by it.
It feels and works like linen except that it has wires connected to a heating appliance powered by electricity. The blankets are usually made from a combination of acrylic with polyester material with a wiring system embedded within the fabric.
With its sturdy linen combination and thin wiring, you don’t have to worry about getting bouts of electric shock.
Warmth and heat are coursed through coiled wires and powered using 120V electricity. On average, a heated blanket can produce 64-77 degrees Fahrenheit on low temperatures and 118-132 °F for high settings.
Aside from this blanket giving off heat, it’s no different from using a standard blanket lying around your house or apartment.
Some blankets may also be machine-washed and will only require you to detach the temperature dial, the appliance that controls the heat. Always follow the instruction manuals on how to wash this special type of linen since wirings can get entangled with improper wash settings.
Standard heating temperatures include low, medium, and high heating levels. Special types of electric heaters come with dual heating functions to allow blanket sharing with varying heating levels.
Most of these blankets are available for king-size beds fit for two people. Remote controls attached to the side of the blanket allow you to control the temperature of the blanket. It’s safe to place these controls on the end part of the bed to avoid entanglements throughout your sleep.
High-end electric heaters usually come with thermostats that make use of your body heat combined with the heat from the electric heater. This gives you added comfort and better sleep since the thermostat does the adjustment for you compared to manual electric heaters.
For the latest heated blankets, they may have an automatic shutoff feature to prevent overheating or fire hazards compared with manual heated blankets. It also calibrates the temperature within the blanket to ensure you’re getting the desired temperature without having to manually adjust it.
Some models may also carry a pre-set feature that allows you to set a time to turn it on and off automatically. New models of heated blankets may feature a carbon-fibre wire for a safer transmission of heat from the electric source to the linen.
It might also use a transformer, a safer method of transmitting power to the heater but with fewer possibilities of a fire breaking out.
What precautions should I take when I use a heated blanket?
Fire hazard is the primary concern for anyone using a heated blanket. Unlike batteries, it is plugged into an electric outlet. Accidental piercing of wires, frayed linen, or short-circuits can cause sparks and catch on the fabric linen.
If you’re taking out the blanket for the winter season, you need to make sure that it’s still working properly. If you see any crimps, unusual deformation in the blanket, and burn marks, do not plug it in.
Check also for the integrity of the cloth and look for frays, holes, or tiny wires sticking out of the fabric. If all is clear, look for an open space where a fire is unlikely to start and plug in the blanket.
Overheating could also be a problem for this appliance. A person sitting near a window on a cold winter day will have a different temperature when he or she goes into the living room.
A common problem for manual electric blankets, overheating can cause accidental burns, especially for the elderly. Older people may have little to no sensation of extreme temperatures.
If not intercepted immediately, this can cause major burns requiring immediate medical attention. If you experience any ‘hot spots’ in your blanket, it’s safe to switch it off as this may indicate melted or wiring malfunction.
Pregnant women are highly recommended not to use an electric blanket during their early pregnancy. In rare cases, overheating may cause a miscarriage. Always ask your doctor first if you’re planning to use a heated blanket.
Opting for a heated blanket with automatic timers or thermostats could be safer. If you’re leaving the house, make sure that your blanket has been turned off. Leaving this overnight can cause overheating and lead to malfunctioning wires.
Never use your electric blanket overnight as this may also lead to overheating. Opt to have a timer set, so you only get to use it for certain periods of time.
How do I store my heated blanket safely?
Remember that this is an appliance. This special linen should be washed at regular intervals and stored according to the manufacturer’s instructions. It’s best to keep this away from anti-moth treatments.
Don’t place any heavy objects on top of the linen to avoid crimping the wires. While some manufacturers allow folding of this blanket, the standard way to store an electric blanket is to roll it. It’s not only safer for the wires, but rolling also keeps it from kinks.
Consider disposing of any heated blanket that has more than 10 years of use. Avoid buying any second-hand blankets. Not only are you not sure if they are still in good working condition, but there’s also a possibility that some wires are non-functional and can lead to overheating.
You can still use your heated blanket like a regular blanket but make sure it stays on your bed flat to avoid any kinks in the wires. It could be beneficial to go for blankets with corner straps to keep it from moving as you sleep through the night.