Soothing Heating Pads Can Also Cook Up Sudden Dangers : Comfort: To relieve aches and pains safely, don’t be careless.

From Reader's Digest

A heating pad provides soothing heat--either moist or dry--to relieve aches and pains.

To be sure it works safely and properly when you need relief, follow these simple tips on using and trouble-shooting a heating pad:

Be sure your pad is labeled wetproof before using it for wet or moist applications. If a pad is not waterproof, use it only for dry heat.

Before each use, examine the pad’s permanent inner cover. If the cover is worn or cracked, discard the pad. If moisture leaks into the heating element, it can cause a serious shock.


Never insert pins into the heating pad. The metal pin might contact a live heating element and cause a shock. Or the pin might rupture the waterproof lining, creating an additional shock hazard.

Heating pads can cause burns if used carelessly. Don’t lie on the pad. Place it on top of, not under, the part of the body to be heated.

Don’t make sharp folds in the pad. Creasing it may break a heating element.

Never use a heating pad on a sleeping person or on a child.

There is a waterproof seal where the control cord enters a heating pad. To avoid damaging the seal, never put tension on the control or power cord. Grasp the plug to disconnect the power cord from a wall outlet.

If a heating pad fails to heat, current is not flowing through the heating elements. You can determine the cause through step-by-step testing, starting with the wall outlet and continuing with the various parts of the pad.

Is the power off at the wall outlet? Unplug the cord and check the outlet with a lamp you know is working. If the outlet is dead, check your home’s main electrical control panel. Replace a blown fuse or reset the tripped circuit breaker. If a heating pad keeps blowing fuses or tripping circuits, it has a short circuit. Replace the pad.

Is the power cord broken or the plug damaged? Unplug the power cord. Examine the cord for fraying and the plug for loose or distorted prongs. If the plug is faulty, you can replace it with a plug of comparable size and capacity. If the cord is damaged, have it replaced at an authorized appliance repair center.


Is the control’s switch spring broken? Unplug the power cord. If the pad’s temperature control has several buttons, none of which stay depressed when pushed, the switch spring is broken and should be replaced at an appliance repair center.

Is the pad too hot or too cold? Temperature problems may be caused by dirty switch contacts in the temperature control unit, or by defective circuitry in the pad. Test for correct heat by gently folding the pad (don’t crease it) over a meat thermometer. After 20 minutes on high, the thermometer should register near 155 degrees. If the temperature is substantially higher or lower than that, the pad should be repaired or replaced.

Before making a commitment to having a pad repaired, price a new one. It may be more economical to discard the old pad.