When the colder months arrive, many of us go to great lengths to try and keep warm. Sometimes, that's as simple as throwing on a sweater and bundling up with a wool blanket. But other occasions call for more extreme measures. On those uber-chilly days (and nights), nothing beats the warmth and coziness of an electric heated blanket. Combining the soft exterior of a traditional blanket with an electrically-powered inner heating element, heated blankets are perhaps one of mankind's most underrated inventions. Able to warm you up quickly and consistently without a whole lot of effort on your part, a good heated blanket makes for the ultimate affordable luxury during winter's dreariest days and nights.
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What to Look for in a Heated Blanket
Perhaps the most important feature to make sure is included in your heated electric blanket is this safety feature. Since you're likely to fall asleep with the blanket, you're not going to want to leave it on all night. Doing so can potentially result in burns on your body or even worse, the blanket could potentially start a fire. An auto shut-off feature will automatically turn the blanket off after a set number of hours, reducing the potential harm that comes with leaving your heated blanket on all night.
Since you're using your heated blanket as, well, a blanket, you'll need to make sure the cord is long enough to 1) reach your bed and 2) allow you to toss and turn a bit. Options tend to top out around nine or ten feet, so look for a blanket with a cord around that length if you anticipate needing a lot of room.
For ease of care, you'll probably want to select a blanket with a removable shell that's machine washable. Thankfully, many blankets on the market meet these criteria, but always take special care to read the cleaning instructions. Although most heated blankets are machine washable, those without removable shells are often not machine dryable, so make sure you're carefully reading those laundering directions to keep from frying your blanket's internals. Don’t burn your money in the dryer.
Give yourself some peace of mind when buying your heated blanket. Underwriters Laboratories (UL), an independent safety testing organization, will give their seal of approval in the form of a UL Certification. This certification proves that UL has tested the product and has deemed it safe for use. Most name brands currently on the market are UL-certified.