If you're like me, you grew up with a hot water bottle. It was the best way to stay warm on a cold night, and it didn't require electricity or batteries to operate. Now that I'm an adult and don't need one anymore (because my apartment is not drafty), I'm not entirely sure why anyone would use one when we have blankets and electric heating pads that are much easier to use. But if you do still have a hot water bottle around, or if you're considering getting one for yourself, there are some precautions you should take when using it—but they're very easy precautions to follow!
It's best to fill the bottle with hot water, as this will help keep it warm longer. If you do decide to use boiling water, be sure to keep the lid closed while pouring and immediately after filling. This helps prevent burns from splashing or spilling onto your skin and can also help prevent evaporation--the single biggest threat to your hot water bottle's longevity.
If you've ever seen one of these explode (and I'm sure most of us have), then you know why it's important to keep them away from children at all times!
You don't need to wrap the bottle in a towel.
You can just put it on your bed, or on your couch or even on the floor if you want to keep it simple. You can also put it in your car if that's where you usually leave hot water bottles when they're not being used (I've done this many times).
You should never leave a hot water bottle in place for more than 20 minutes. The same goes for any other kind of heating pad or hot pack, including electric blanket pads. If you have an elderly relative who needs extra heat at night, make sure they're awake and alert when it's time to change out their hot water bottle--and don't forget to check on them periodically throughout the night!
If your hot water bottle does get cold and you don't have time to immediately reheat it, there are a few options.
There are some precautions you should take when using a hot water bottle, but they're easy ones to follow.
It depends on the materials used in the bottle. Some plastics can be damaged by heat, while others are not. It also depends on how long you heat the water and how long you keep it hot. If you fill your bottle with boiling water, then leave it overnight, there's a good chance that some sort of damage has been done to your bottle--even if only minimal!
You can heat up a hot water bottle when it's empty, but do not fill an empty one with boiling water.
If you want to use a hot water bottle for warming up or soothing aches and pains, make sure the seal on the stopper is intact before filling it with boiling water. A broken seal could lead to burns if you put your hand inside the bottle (and let's face it: we all know how tempting that is).
The temperature of the water is important. The bottle must be completely empty before you fill it with hot water, or else there's a chance that your skin will come into contact with boiling liquid.
If your bottle is already hot, you should never fill it with cold water (or vice versa). This can cause cracks in the plastic as well as an explosion due to sudden changes in pressure inside the bottle--and no one wants either of those things happening while they're sleeping!
You should also avoid filling a hot water bottle with cold water. While this may seem like the most logical thing to do, it's actually dangerous for a number of reasons:
The safest thing to do is use your common sense, and don't fill a hot water bottle with boiling water. If you want to heat up an empty hot water bottle, go for it! Just remember that heating up a cold one has the potential to be dangerous as well: if you put it in the microwave and then forget about it (or leave it on too long), that could cause burns just as easily as if someone were holding onto the bottle while its contents were boiling over onto their skin.
As always, use common sense! And don't fill any kind of container--not even a thermos--with boiling liquid unless you want those contents spilled all over yourself or others nearby.
The bottom line is that hot water bottles are a great way to keep warm during cold weather. They're also safe and easy to use, as long as you follow the basic precautions above. If you have any questions about using hot water bottles or want more information about their history and usage today, check out our website for more information!