Using Household Appliances and Tools (EMI Safety)
Your pacemaker is designed to work properly around most appliances and tools. However, strong electromagnetic interference (EMI) from some appliances and tools may affect how your pacemaker works. While these effects are usually temporary, we recommend using the following guidelines for safe interaction with many common household items.
Important to Know
- Your pacemaker has built-in features that protect it from interference from most electrical or wireless household items.
- Some electrical and wireless items must be kept a certain distance away from your pacemaker to avoid interaction with your device.
What is EMI?
All items that use electricity or transmit wireless signals have invisible electromagnetic fields around them that may temporarily interfere with your pacemaker’s normal operation. This is called electromagnetic interference, or EMI for short.
Your pacemaker has built-in features that protect it from EMI from most household items. However, some items must be kept a certain distance from your pacemaker. And others, should not be used at all. Learn more about the safety of various items below.
Safe Under Normal Use
The following household items are generally safe to use with a pacemaker as long as they are in good working condition and used as intended:
- Air purifiers
- CD/DVD Players
- Clothes washing machines
- Electric blankets
- Electric can openers
- Electric invisible fences
- Electric toothbrushes
- Fax/copy machines
- Hair dryers
- Heating pads
- Hot tubs/whirlpool baths
NOTE: Consult with your doctor before using a hot tub. While a hot tub will not harm your pacemaker, your medical condition may not permit this activity.
- Laser tag games
- Microwave ovens
- Ovens (electric, convection, or gas)
- Patient alert devices
- Personal computers
- Personal digital assistants (PDAs)
NOTE: PDAs that also function as cell phones should be kept at least 6 inches away from your pacemaker.
- Portable space heaters
- Radios (AM and FM)
- Remote controls (TV, garage door, stereo, camera/video equipment)
- Stoves (electric or gas)
- Tanning beds
- TV or radio towers (safe outside of restricted areas)
- Vacuum cleaners
- Video games
Safe to Use with Extra Precautions
If you use any of the following items, it’s important to keep them the recommended distance away from your pacemaker to avoid interaction with your device.
Items that should not be placed directly over your pacemaker, but are otherwise safe to use:
- Cordless (household) telephones
- Electric razors
- Hand-held massagers
- Portable MP3 and multimedia players (such as iPods®) that do not also function as a cellular phone
NOTE: While portable MP3 players themselves should not interfere with your pacemaker, the headphones or earbuds should be stored at least 6 inches (15 cm) away from your device and you should avoid draping the headphones around your neck.
Items that should remain at least 6 inches (15 cm) away from your pacemaker:
- Cellular phones, including PDAs and portable MP3 players with integrated cellular phones
- Devices transmitting Bluetooth® or Wi-Fi signals (cellular phones, wireless Internet routers, etc.)
- Headphones and earbuds
NOTE: It is safe to use headphones and earbuds, but you should refrain from draping them around your neck and from storing them in a breast or other shirt pocket.
- Magnetic wands used in the game of Bingo
Items that should remain at least 12 inches (30 cm) away from your pacemaker:
- Battery-powered cordless power tools
- Corded drills and power tools
- Lawn mowers
- Leaf blowers
- Remote controls with antennas
- Shop tools (drills, table saws, etc.)
- Slot machines
- Snow blowers
- Stereo speakers
Items that should remain at least 24 inches (60 cm) away from your pacemaker:
- Arc welders
- CB and police radio antennas
- Running motors and alternators, especially those found in vehicles
NOTE: Avoid leaning over running motors and alternators of a running vehicle. Alternators create large magnetic fields that can affect your pacemaker. However, the distance required to drive or ride in a vehicle is safe.
Using Cellular Phones Safely
Your cellular phone is a source of EMI and could affect your pacemaker’s operation. This interaction is temporary, and moving the phone away from your device will return it to proper function. To reduce the chance of interaction, follow these precautions:
- Maintain a distance of at least 6 inches (15 cm) between the cell phone and your pacemaker. If the phone transmits more than 3 watts, increase the distance to 12 inches (30 cm).
- Hold the cellular phone to your ear on the opposite side of your body from your pacemaker.
- Do not carry a cell phone in a breast pocket or on a belt if that places the phone within 6 inches (15 cm) of your pacemaker.
These precautions apply only to cell phones, not to household cordless phones. However, you should avoid placing your household cordless phone receiver directly over your pacemaker.
NOT Safe for Use
The following items are NOT safe to use if you have a pacemaker:
- Body-fat measuring scales
- Magnetic mattresses and chairs
- Stun guns
Resources and Support
We're Here to Help
Our patient support team is happy to help answer all your questions about living with your device.
Phone: (866) 484-3268
Hours: M-F 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Central