As we head into winter, many older people will be dusting off their electric blankets to keep warm.
But the fire brigade is warning many old electric blankets pose a risk to their health and account for more than 5,000 in the home.
Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service (BFRS) and Age UK Bedfordshire are working together to help existing Age UK Bedfordshire clients swap their old and possibly dangerous electric blankets for warm and cosy mattress toppers during Electric Safety Week (November 9 to 18).
One early recipient of a new mattress topper was Joyce Buck, who has volunteered on reception in Age UK Bedfordshire’s office for more than fifteen years and is over 90 years old.
She met David Lynch of the Fire Service and Age UK Bedfordshire’s Debbie Copperwheat in their office in Bromham Road, Bedford to receive her topper.
Age UK Bedfordshire CEO Karen Perry said: “It is important for older people to stay warm during the winter - research shows there’s a general lack of awareness about the effects of cold weather on an older person’s health.
“A recent survey, quoted on the Age UK website, showed that many people wrongly believe that hypothermia is the main cause of excess winter death.
“There is also a belief that leaving a window open at night to let in fresh air is good for your health, whereas the opposite is true – breathing in cold air lowers body temperature and raises the risk of chest infections.”
BFRS Area Community Safety Officer said David Lynch: “Cold weather causes a massive increase in associated health problems: heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia, depression, worsening arthritis and increased accidents at home (associated with loss of strength and dexterity in the hands). To help stay warm this winter why not swap your electric blanket?”
Look out for the signs your electric blanket is beyond its best, and needs attention or replacement:-
· Fraying fabric
· Scorch marks
· Exposed elements
· Creasing or folding
· Damp patches
· Tie tapes damaged or missing
· Worn flex
· Loose connections.
If your blanket or any part of the wiring shows any of these danger signs, you should replace it.
Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service would also recommend that anyone using an electric blanket should have it tested at least every year by a qualified electrician.