Official figures show that people over 65 in Scotland are at greater risk from fires in the home than any other age group.
Paisley’s MSP George Adam has highlighted, “In Paisley, we have a health population of older people. However, at this time of year, many older people worry about winter fuel bills and use portable heaters and electric blankets as a means of keeping warm without heating their entire home. But these products can provide dangerous if not used safely.
‘With winter fast approaching, it’s increasingly important to improve awareness of electrical risk – particularly since almost two thirds of fires in Scottish homes arise from electrical products.”
In 2013 -14, almost 40% of deaths from portable heaters were of people aged 80 and over. Yet a survey by the charity, Electrical Safety First, found more than half of respondents would use a portable heater to keep warm in winter. Elsewhere fires caused by damaged electric blankets are also common. That’s why George is supporting a campaign by Electrical Safety First to ensure older people can live safely in their own home.
The first stage of the campaign aims to raise awareness of electrical risk among older adults and to encourage their friends and family to check in on them and look around for electrical danger.
George continued, “As our lifespan increases, we tend to remain in properties for longer, which often means regular home safety checks are forgotten and electrical installations and appliances tend to be older.
‘Electrical Safety First’s campaign highlights how – by taking just a few moments to ensure electrical sockets, wires and cords are in good condition and sockets aren’t overloaded – can make a real difference in securing the safety of older relatives and friends”
The second stage of the campaign will take place early next year, when Electrical Safety First launch the outcomes of its latest research on older people in Scotland – including a range of recommendations to help keep them safe and healthy and living in their own home.
The Charity has a range of information to help keep older people electrically safe this winter. Further details can be found on its website: www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/agesafescotland
Electrical Safety First successfully campaigned for the new Scottish Housing Act to include a requirement for landlords to ensure five-yearly electrical checks, by a registered electrician, of the wiring and any electrical appliances supplied in privately rented homes. The Charity is now working to extend this protection to people living in other housing tenures.