Heat stroke deaths caused by electric blankets: case report and review of the literature

Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2006 Dec;27(4):324-7. doi: 10.1097/01.paf.0000233567.51784.31.


Heat stroke is the most serious and potentially life-threatening condition of the heat-related illnesses. Heat stroke deaths caused by electric blanket are rarely reported. In this paper, we report 2 cases of fatal heat stroke caused by overheating from electric blankets in winter. One was a 41-year-old man who was found unresponsive in bed on an electric blanket. His wife shared the same bed with him and was found unconscious. The wife's axillary temperature was 40 degrees C (104 degrees C) when she was admitted to the hospital. She fully recovered after medical treatment. The husband was pronounced dead at scene, with rectal temperature at 41.2 degrees C (106.2 degrees C). The other was a 13-year-old girl who was found dead in bed on an electric blanket, with rectal temperature at 41 degrees C (105.8 degrees F). The literature is reviewed, and the pertinent findings, including scene investigations, postmortem examination, the risk and mechanism of fatal heat stroke caused by using electric blanket, are discussed.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Autopsy
  • Bedding and Linens / adverse effects*
  • Body Temperature
  • Burns / etiology
  • Burns / pathology*
  • Female
  • Forensic Medicine
  • Heat Stroke / etiology
  • Heat Stroke / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Male