Electric blankets can provide a cozy warmth on a cold night. The blanket is made of coiled wires that heat up when plugged in to an electrical power source. But like most electrical items, this can cause several fire risks, and unlike other bedding, electric blankets have unforeseen disadvantages. The extra warmth may not be worth it in the long run.
Electric blankets are only meant for use on certain beds. It is not recommended using electric blankets on sofas or couches, which eliminates sofa beds entirely. The concern is the risk of combined electrical wires or flammable fabrics found in certain bed types. This include waterbeds (water and electricity do not mix) and mechanical beds. Bunk beds are a no-go as well because the cord may stretch to reach the upper bed and pose a fire risk.
The main disadvantage of an electric blanket is the fire risks. Any electrical appliance contains a risk for fires, and electric blankets are no exception. Blankets are thoroughly tested for safety and prevention, and many contain automatic shut-off mechanisms after a certain period of time to reduce the chances of overheating or fire if the blanket is left on for too long. Manufactures want to minimize risks. Older electric blankets may not have built-in safety shut-off times. The wiring may be frayed or damaged without the user knowing. Accidentally leaving the blanket turned on for long periods of time can increase the risk of a fire.
The blanket is heated through a wired coil sewn into the fabric. These wires can break with normal wear and use. A short in a broken wire can cause a fire hazard, and it prevents the blanket from heating up. Even without the risk of fire, the blanket can be plugged in all night and never produce any heat. If this happens, you'll have to discard the blanket and buy a new one, which is an expense that you may not have seen coming.
If you share your sleeping space with a furry friend or a cuddly child, skip the electric blanket. Pets can accidentally damage the blanket with their claws or by chewing through the fabric. Exposed wires or punctured wire insulation poses a risk, and the blanket will not work properly. Electric blankets are also risky to use with infants and small children. They may get too hot too quickly or burn their sensitive skin without you knowing. Older children who are deep sleepers and elderly or diabetic individuals should avoid electric blankets as well as they can be burned if their skin is exposed to heat for too long.
Most people are in their bedding six to eight hours every night. Sheets and blankets need consistent washing to remove bacteria, sweat, dead skin cells and dust mites. Most electric blankets cannot be washed. Some electric blankets come with fabric covers, such as a duvet cover, that can be removed and washed. But the wiring prevents electric blankets themselves from running through a wash cycle. This is one potentially gross (and smelly!) disadvantage that you may want to avoid.