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. These effects are usually temporary. Still, we recommend following these guidelines to stay safe.
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 devices must be kept a certain distance away from your pacemaker.
What is EMI?
Everything that uses electricity or transmits wireless signals has invisible electromagnetic fields around them. This is called electromagnetic interference, or EMI for short.
Your pacemaker has built-in features that protect it from EMI from most household items. Still, you should keep a certain distance away from certain items and not use others at all. Learn safety details below.
Safe to Use Normally
- 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: Talk with your doctor before using a hot tub. It will not harm your pacemaker but hot tubs may affect your medical condition.
- Laser tag games
- Microwave ovens
- Ovens (electric, convection, or gas)
- Patient alert devices
- Personal computers
- Personal digital assistants (PDAs)
NOTE: PDAs that are also 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 at a Distance
It is safe to use these items so long as you don’t place them directly over your pacemaker:
- 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 should not interfere with your pacemaker, the headphones or earbuds should be stored at least 6 inches (15 cm) away from your pacemaker. You should avoid draping the headphones around your neck.
Keep 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 (cell phones, wireless Internet routers, etc.)
- Headphones and earbuds
NOTE: It’s safe to use headphones and earbuds. But you should not drape them around your neck or store them in a breast or other shirt pocket.
- Magnetic wands used in the game of Bingo
Keep 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
Keep at least 24 inches (60 cm) away from your pacemaker:
- Arc welders
- CB and police radio antennas
- Running motors and alternators, especially those 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, when you are driving or riding you are at a safe distance.
Using Cell Phones Safely
Your cell phone is a source of EMI and could affect your pacemaker temporarily. Once you move the phone away from your pacemaker, it will return it to working as usual.
- Keep at least 6 inches (15 cm) between the cell phone and your pacemaker. If the phone transmits more than 3 watts, keep the phone 12 inches (30 cm) away.
- Hold the 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 your belt if that places the phone within 6 inches (15 cm) of your pacemaker.
This applies only to cell phones, not to household cordless phones. But you should avoid placing your household cordless phone receiver directly over your pacemaker.
NOT Safe for Use
These items are not safe to use if you have a pacemaker:
- Body-fat measuring scales
- Magnetic mattresses and chairs
- Stun guns
Resources and Support
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Phone: (866) 484-3268
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