Why are Electric Blankets a Fire Hazard?

Nothing says warm and cozy quite like an electric blanket on a cold, frigid night. Some use them as an extra layer of heat during the winter months. Others have looked to electric blankets as a highly efficient heat source in lieu of turning the thermostat up or flipping the switch on that electric space heater stashed nearby. Electric blankets have been a tried and trusted way to keep warm for decades, but many might not be aware of the safety issues that can lead to the potential fire hazards these blankets can bring with them.

Why are Electric Blankets a Fire Hazard?

electric blankets a fire hazardMost new models on the market come with a shut-off mechanism specifically designed to prevent overheating or catching fire. The majority of the older electric blankets made before 2001 do not have said mechanism and can run the risk of these safety issues. Tellingly, the overwhelming majority of fires are caused by electric blankets or pads that are more than ten years old. Most of these blankets would be considered potential fire hazards.

Experts have estimated that electric blankets are the cause of an average of 500 house fires every year. In many instances, these fires occur without abuse or misuse of the blanket, while the consumer is using it according to the instructions. These fires occur without warning, often after many years of use without a single issue.

In most cases, there are two major causes of fire when using an electric blanket. Igniting of combustible materials caused by the heating element overheating, or the electric arcing of a broken electrical conductor. There are some makes and models that could lead to a third, rare cause of a fire, where an electric component other than the heating element overheats, to the point of igniting combustible materials.

Performing safety checks on a regular basis is a good practice that to help prevent accidental fires. If your electric blanket shows any of the following, it should be considered a fire hazard and must be immediately discarded:

  • Visible dark or charred spots


  • Includes a plug or cord or plug that is frayed, cracked or showing signs of damage.


  • Includes a manufacturing or broken control unit.


  • Does not display the endorsement of the Underwriters Laboratory.


  • Has exceeded the projected lifespan noted in the owner’s manual, usually no more than then years.


electric blankets a fire hazardIt’s recommended to avoid using an electric blanket on an adjustable bed, sofa, recliner or sofa, as the heated wires could become pinched or overheat. Always ensure your blanket is spread out so that it lays flat. They should never be rolled up, folded or bunched up in any way. Never run the control cords between the box spring and mattress. Friction could eventually damage the cord, or electricity running through the cord could become trapped, thus becoming a fire hazard.

With the proper care and consideration of safety precautions, a modern electric blanket can and should be a great source of comfort for your home that will last for years.Most of the accidental fires caused can potentially be avoided when using the guideline listed above. If your electric blanket does catch fire, or you are a victim of a fire in your home or business, please remember that Tidal Wave Response is only a phone call away.

Fire Damage Restoration with Tidal Wave Response

Tidal Wave Response is the most trusted resource in the Atlanta area, treating fire and smoke damage, water and sewage, as well as cleanup and restoration projects. Our 24-hour emergency service line (770-693-4568) is your direct lifeline when faced with any of those issues, and should be the first number you call when you reach for your phone. Call us before you call your insurance company. Your safety is in good hands with Tidal Wave Response in case of emergency!

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