Check elderly’s electric devices

Mary Glindon MP for North Tyneside.
Mary Glindon MP for North Tyneside.

As winter envelops us, many older people resort to portable electric heaters and blankets to keep warm and cut energy costs.

But it can be risky. Electric devices cause half of all domestic fires with the over 60s at far greater risk than any other age group. Damaged electric blankets were, for instance, responsible for over 5,000 UK house fires each year while almost 40% of deaths of people aged 80 plus were from portable heaters during 2013-2014.

The Electrical Safety First charity told me at a recent safety surgery in the Commons that because people live longer and often in the same houses, regular home safety checks are often skipped and electrical wiring and appliances tend to age too.

But 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. They suggest friends and family check in on older people and look around for electrical danger.

Please take a few minutes to do this - those minutes could save lives and all the misery it entails for relatives and friends. And why not double check your own devices?

The charity has also sensibly been urging a free, five-yearly electrical safety check for all households with one person aged over 75 and statutory five-yearly checks in all care homes.

It has also developed information packs to help keep older people electrically safe. Download from www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/guides-and-advice/for-older-people/