Older people are being given the chance to exchange their old electric blankets for new ones at a special event in Wisbech next month [ January].
It is being organised by Fenland District Council and Cambridgeshire’s Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS), with extra support from Age UK Cambridgeshire and the Fenland Youth District Council.
The free blanket exchange will be part of a Golden Age event at the Oasis Centre in St Michael’s Avenue on January 22, 10am-1pm.
Anyone aged over 65 can take advantage of the offer. The new blankets will be distributed on a first come, first served basis by volunteers from the CFRS’s Community Champions scheme. They will also be giving general advice on fire safety. However, they will not be able to carry out checks on old blankets.
Representatives from Age UK Cambridgeshire will also be there to offer advice and information about the free energy efficiency assessments that are available through its Handyman service
The event is being hosted by members of FDC’s Golden Age team, with the Fenland Ferret on hand to identify any benefits people may be entitled to claim. Tea and biscuits will be provided.
Fenland Council and the CFRS have each provided £1,000 to pay for the new electric blankets, with an extra £500 coming from the Youth District Council.
Councillor Steve Garratt, FDC’s Cabinet member responsible for older people, said: “The winter is a hard time for many older and vulnerable people and we need to do all we can to help them keep warm and stay safe.
“This blanket exchange and the energy-saving measures that can save money and make their homes cosier are two ways we can do that.
“I’m also very pleased that the Youth District Council is backing the event. It shows they care about older people as well as those of their own generation.”
Faulty electric blankets are a significant fire risk. On previous occasions when old blankets have been tested, more than 70 per cent have failed safety checks.
Wendy Coleman, community risk manager at CFRS, said: “As temperatures threaten to drop in the remaining winter months, many residents will be dusting off electric blankets to stay warm at night.
“However, electric blankets contain heating elements that can be dangerous and start a fire if broken or allowed to overheat.
“We’re keen to support this scheme with Age UK Cambridgeshire and the council as it is a great opportunity for residents to be safe and get expert fire prevention advice. Our volunteer Community Champions will be on hand to provide tips to residents about electric blankets.”