Keeping older constituents safe this winter


Winter is coming and with nearly three quarters of fires arising from electricity – and older people disproportionately affected by them – it’s the time of year we particularly need to keep an eye on older friends and relatives.

That’s why Ruth Maguire, SNP MSP for Cunninghame South is backing Electrical Safety First’s Safer Over 65 campaign. The Charity is working with MSPs to encourage constituents to check on the electrical safety of older family members, or neighbours, and has developed a range of tools and guides to help keep them safe in their home.

“Many older people worry about winter heating bills, often using portable heaters and electric blankets to cut costs – but these appliances have caused a number of house fires, mainly through misuse”, explains Ruth. “And with most older people being owner-occupiers, they tend to live in homes which haven’t had an electrical safety check for many years which often lack important electrical safety features. Today, we are sadly also seeing a significant increase in age-related illnesses such as dementia, making electrical safety even more of an imperative.”

Most electrical fires are caused by simple mistakes that can easily be avoided. The Charity’s top tips for using portable heaters safely are given below but for more detailed help – including an app which allows you to do a rapid visual electrical safety check of a home, plus a range of safety guides – visit:

Portable Heater Safety Tips

  • Place the heater on a level surface, well away from anything that could knock it over.
  • Make sure the heater is at least a metre away from combustible materials, such as paper, furniture or curtains. Never use it to dry clothes!
  • Never leave a heater unattended when in use, or while sleeping.
  • Never power a heater from an extension lead – they can easily be overloaded and cause fires and trailing leads can cause slips and trips.
  • Make sure heaters are regularly inspected for damage and deterioration. If it isn’t in good condition, don’t use it!
  • Avoid second hand heaters – buy from recognised and reputable manufacturers and retailers.

And please spread the word on social media – including the Twitter hashtag  #SO65

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