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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Medical Devices

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Questions and Answers on HoMedics®, Inc. Heating Pads and General Heating Pad Safety

What are heating pads?

Heating Pads are flexible fabric-covered pads containing electrical heating elements with a removable fabric cover. They usually operate from household current and are used to apply heat to the body to treat sore muscles or joints.

Are there risks in using a heating pad?

Heating pads can cause harm if the user does not follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received reports of injury and death from burns, electric shocks, and fires associated with the use of electric heating pads. Incidents have occurred in nursing homes, hospitals and at home.  

What is the problem with the HoMedics® heating pads?

HoMedics®, Inc. elected to recall their heating pads after the company received complaints from users about burns and fires. The cause of the problem may be a loose connection which could cause a short circuit.

When were the HoMedics® heating pads produced and sold?

The voluntary recall, dated February 9, 2007, involved approximately 292,108 heating pads that were produced in 2001 and shipped to retailers in 2001 and 2002. These heating pads were sold in the United States to Walgreens and other retail drug and department stores.

HoMedics® Thera-P® Heating PadsWhat model numbers were affected by the recall?

  • Walgreen’s by Homedics® Model 802857 Standard Size Moist/Dry Heating Pad
  • HoMedics® Thera-P® Model HP-100 Standard Size Dry Heating Pad
  • HoMedics® Thera-P® Model HP-150 Standard Size Moist/Dry Heating Pad
  • HoMedics® Thera-P® Model HP-200 Standard Size Moist/Dry Heating Pad with Auto Shut-off
  • HoMedics® Thera-P® Model HP-300 King Size Moist/Dry Heating Pad
  • HoMedics® Thera-P® Model HP-500 King Size Moist/Dry Heating Pad with Auto Shut-off

Each HoMedics® heating pad is marked with a unique 4-digit date code located both on the back of the hand control as well as on the bottom panel of the packaging. ONLY 4-DIGIT DATE CODES ENDING IN "01" ARE SUBJECT TO THIS VOLUNTARY RECALL.

What steps should I take if my heating pad is affected by the recall?

Stop using the product immediately and return the heating pad to the retailer where purchased for a full refund.

To read more about the recall:

Consumers with questions may contact:

  • HoMedics, Inc. at 1-800-466-3342, John Wettlaufer at 1-249-863-3000 ext. 1168, or email cservice@homedics.com.

General Heating Pad Safety

What causes heating pad fires?

Heating pad fires can occur when broken or worn insulation of the electric wires in the heating pad causes the pad to ignite or when the electrical cords are cracked or frayed.

How long can I leave the heating pad on?

Check your manufacturer's instructions. Some newer models of heating pads have automatic shut-offs. A general guide is to check the skin every 20 minutes.

What precautions should I take when using a heating pad?

ALWAYS --

  • Inspect heating pad before each use to assure it is in proper working order; discard it if it looks worn or cracked or if the electrical cord is frayed.
  • Keep removable cover on pad during use.
  • Place heating pad on top of, and not underneath of, the body part in need of heat. (The temperature of a heating pad increases if heat is trapped.)
  • Unplug heating pad when not in use.
  • Read and follow all manufacturers’ instructions on heating pad or on outside package prior to use.

What actions should be avoided?

NEVER --

  • Use on an infant.
  • Use on a person who is paralyzed or has skin that is not sensitive to temperature changes (e.g. advanced age, diabetes, strokes, or medications for pain or sleeplessness).
  • Use on a sleeping or unconscious person.
  • Use in an oxygen enriched environment or near equipment that stores or emits oxygen.
  • Sit on or against a heating pad.
  • Crush or fold a heating pad during use or during storage.
  • Unplug heating pad by pulling its connecting cord.
  • Use pins or other metallic fasteners to hold heating pad in place.

When should I throw away and replace my heating pad?

When the heating pad shows sign of wear or tear, inspect the heating pad and its cord and discard it when there are signs of frayed wires, cracks or tears in the covering. Frayed or cracked wiring or a tear in the cover can cause the pad to catch fire.

How do I report adverse events to FDA?

Consumers who have experienced adverse reactions or quality problems with the use of this product or any medical device are also encouraged to report to the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program either online, by regular mail or by FAX.

  • Online: MedWatch
  • Regular Mail: use postage-paid FDA form 3500
    Mail to MedWatch 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20852-9787
  • FAX: 1-800-FDA-0178  

 What should I do if I have additional questions? 

If you have questions about this Notification, please contact FDA's  Division of of Small Manufacturers, International and Consumer Assistance (DSMICA) by e-mail at dsmica@fda.hhs.gov or by phone at 1-800-638-2041 or 301-796-7100
 

For more information, please see Advice for Patients: Possible Burns or Fires from Heating Pads Manufactured by HoMedics, Inc.