New research has found that if you are isolated and over 65 in Wales, you are at much greater risk from electrical fires. In fact, older people living alone experienced three times more electrical fires than the same age group who cohabit[i]. Last year, a shocking 311[ii] accidental electrical fires occurred in the homes of older people in Wales. Of these, 76% were in the homes of those living completely alone[iii].
The research – which was undertaken by leading consumer protection Charity, Electrical Safety First - surveyed Welsh adults over the age of 65, to determine how vulnerable those living alone feel about potential electric fires. Results showed that nearly 1 in 6 believed they would be less at risk if they were living with someone else[iv]. It’s a view supported by government data - of all the accidental electrical fires that occurred in Wales betwen 2016/17, nearly 22% directly affected older people living alone[v].
Sadly, the Charity discovered that, on average, many older people go 6 months without seeing a family member, friend, or neighbour, who they rely on to check their electrics[vi]. With almost half of those surveyed admitting they do not know the warning signs of dangerous or damaged electrics[vii], Electrical Safety First is urging people to pop in to see older relatives, friends and neighbours, to perform some basic electrical checks.
“We are urging Welsh communities to visit older people who may be living alone”, said Phil Buckle, Chief Executive of Electrical Safety First. “Our findings revealing the disturbing number of electrical fires affecting this demographic but we can all do our part to address this issue. Checking in on your older neighbour, friend or relative won’t only help tackle loneliness but could save a life. You may discover something that prevents a serious incident from occurring and with your help, we can change things for the better.”
Electrical Safety First has developed a range of tools and guides to help keep older people safe in their own homes. For more information, visit: https://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/guides-and-advice/for-older-people/
[i] Based on analysis of data provided by Stats Wales of all dwelling accidental electrical fires 2016/17 whereby people over a pensionable age cohabiting experienced 72 accidental electrical fires compared to 239 of those over a pensionable age living alone.
[ii] Based on analysis of data provided by Stats Wales of whereby 311 accidental fires occurred in dwellings whereby the ignition/power source was deemed electrical and the occupant was over a pensionable age.
[iii] Of these 311 accidental electrical fires that affected a person over a pensionable age 239 occurred in the homes of older people who lived completely alone.
[iv] Based on consumer research commissioned by Electrical Safety First surveying 1,000 people over the age of 65 in Great Britain. Of those surveyed in Wales who live alone 14.8% said they would feel less at risk of an electrical fire if they were to live with someone else.
[v] Based on analysis of Stats Wales fire data, 1,093 accidental electrical fires occurred in dwellings in Wales 2016/17 of which 239 occurred in the homes of people over a pensionable age living alone.
[vi] Consumer research commissioned by Electrical Safety First whereby those over the age of 65 that rely solely on a friend, family member, neighbour or carer to check their electrics go on average, 26.81 weeks without seeing that person.
[vii] Consumer research commissioned by Electrical Safety First whereby 46.9% of those surveyed in Wales said they did not know the warning signs something could be wrong with the electrics in their home.