Electric blankets are warming devices with heating elements installed inside the blanket. The elements heat the blanket to a desired setting, providing the user with more heat than a standard blanket. Wires run throughout the blanket and an outside control switch adjusts the temperature of the blanket. Any electrical device poses problems, including an electric blanket.
Bunching or folding an electric blanket can cause a short in the wires threaded inside the blanket. The short circuit creates a overheating problem in one of the heating elements, causing excessive heat to develop. A heating element can also quit working if the bunching breaks a wire. When this type of problem develops, part of the electric blanket works normally while the other part overheats or fails to heat up properly.
Certain individuals should not utilize electric blankets. Most manufacturers place a warning label that lists the individuals who should not use electric blankets. Diabetics, for example, are advised not to use electric blankets because diabetics are commonly insensitive to heat. The insensitivity prevents the diabetic from recognizing an overheating problem with the electric blanket. Infants or younger children should not use electric blankets for the same reason. Paralyzed or helpless people must not utilize an electric blanket. Any person with a medical condition should check with a physician before purchasing an electric blanket.
A recall was issued for certain electric blankets in 2003, when the Consumer Product Safety Commission, or CPSC, recalled more than 11,000 WestPoint Stevens electric blankets. The heating blankets were melting when folded. The overheating problem caused 10 reported injuries. The heating elements were incorrectly attached to the wiring inside the blanket, creating a short. CPSC also recalled more than 18,000 electric blankets manufactured by Perfect Fit and 15,000 electric blankets were voluntarily recalled by Land's End in 2001 for an overheating problem.
The electric blanket plug inserts into the wall outlet in one direction. A polarized plug has one side or blade bigger than the other side. A plug that is forced into an outlet causes an electrical shock to the user. Damage to the plug and electrical outlet can occur when the plug is forced into the outlet in the wrong direction. Turn the plug over and attempt to fit the plug into the outlet in the other direction if the plug does not fit or slide in the outlet the first time. The blades can also break off or bend, creating the same condition.
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