Today I read a news post of an elderly lady died after an over hot wheat bag started a fire in her bed.
I have always had concerns with wheat bags due to a number of factors.
First is that heating in the microwave can have uneven results. This can mean some parts are hotter then others and can lead to burns.
The second issue is that wheat bags is if heated too long can hold enough heat to burn skin.
Many people forget that it’s the combination of heat and time of exposure that leads to burn. While the pack may not feel too hot when tested on the hand, leaving it on delicate skin for 10-15 minutes can create a significant burn.
People who are using it as one of their nerve pain remedies, usually have reduced sensation in their legs and feet. This is called peripheral neuropathy and they are at risk for being easily burnt as they may not feel the excess heat.
Diabetes, HIV and some medications can reduce nerve function in the feet and legs. Reduced sensation can lead to significant burns and ulcers that can take a long time to heal.
My personal preference is to use the gel heat packs and to always make sure there is a layer of cloth protection between the heat pack and your skin.
Never use a wheat bag or heat pack for longer then 10 minutes against the skin, or even shorter if you have reduced sensation in your legs. Don’t put a heat bag on your skin if there is a chance you could fall asleep with it in place.
On a final note, never place wheat packs inside your bed as there is nowhere for the heat to escape. This can result in a fire.
I hope this post may help reduce the risk of burns or fires in people, especially now winter is on it’s way here in Australia.
Yours in good health.