A Guide to Fire Safety in Offices

Fire safety in offices

Who is responsible for fire safety in my office?

If you are the owner, landlord, employer or occupier of a business premises, including offices, you are responsible for fire safety under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, and are known as the ‘responsible person’.  As the responsible person in your office, you must ensure that you:

  • Carry out a fire risk assessment and review it regularly
  • Identify risks from the fire risk assessment and put measures in place to reduce or manage them
  • Inform staff of the risks and of their responsibilities to ensure good fire safety is achieved
  • Ensure adequate fire safety measures have been put in place and maintain them
  • Have an appropriate fire safety procedure and communicate this to staff and visitors
  • Provide training to staff to ensure they know what to do in the event of a fire

What is a fire risk assessment?

A comprehensive fire risk assessment taking place

A fire risk assessment is a detailed review of your office space to identify fire risks and provide recommendations to either mitigate, reduce or manage them. A fire risk assessment can be carried out by a competent person or a professional.

You can use our free fire risk assessment form to carry out your own assessment if you feel you have the required skills and knowledge to do so. It is essential that you use this in conjunction with the appropriate official fire risk assessment guide for offices.

Alternatively, you can request that a trained fire risk assessor completes your office fire risk assessment for you. You will receive a comprehensive fire risk assessment and detailed guidance should any recommendations for improvement be required.

What kind of fire safety measures will I be required to put in place?

To ensure that you are meeting all your legal obligations you will need to look at the following areas:

  • Are your emergency evacuation routes and exits clear from hazards and well signposted?
  • Do you have adequate means to detect a fire and warn others?
  • Do you have appropriate fire fighting equipment and is it in the right place?
  • Are any dangerous substances stored correctly?
  • Think about the people who are in your office (both staff and visitors), particularly those with special considerations such as the elderly and people with disabilities
  • Provide fire safety information and training

Emergency evacuation routes and exits

Photoluminescent fire escape route signs

Staff escaping a building must be visually directed to the safest and usually quickest route leading to the nearest fire exit. Ensure that photo-luminescent (glow in the dark) fire escape route signs are indicating the nearest exit and are clearly visible.

You need to ensure that even if the mains power fails, all escape route signs are visible and that stairs and uneven floors are lit sufficiently to escape safely. You can achieve this by installing emergency lights or by installing illuminated fire exit signs in the first place.

Evacuation and fire drills

Every member of staff must be made aware of where the nearest fire exits are and which routes to take when exiting the building. The best way of ensuring that all staff know the escape routes is to ensure that when a new staff member starts you complete a ‘fire walk’. This enables you to show staff all the fire escape routes and  where fire fighting equipment is located.

You should carry out regular fire drills, ensuring that you also include practising taking alternative routes if your nearest fire escape should be blocked by a fire.

When planning your evacuation procedure ensure that you also include how you would safely evacuate someone with reduced mobility. Evacuation chairs offer a safe and easy solution to ensure that everyone can escape safely in the event of a fire. You should ensure that staff are trained to use equipment and also that the evacuation equipment is maintained and serviced. 

Fire extinguishers and maintenance

Choosing the right type of extinguisher

Portable fire extinguishers can be very valuable in preventing small fires getting out of hand and turning into large fires that can put lives at risk and destroy buildings. The safety of your staff and visitors should be the main priority and staff should only be encouraged to use a portable fire extinguisher if they have been trained and as long as it does not put them in any danger.

Dry water mist fire extinguishers can be used on live electrical fires

It is paramount that you have the correct type of fire extinguisher to tackle the type of fire that could occur in your office. Installing extinguishers that can tackle more than one type of fire, such as the dry water mist fire extinguisher, will reduce the number of different types required in your office and will also reduce the risk of using the wrong type. Dry water mist extinguishers can be used on class A, B and C fires as well as on live electrical fires.

You can read our following help guides for more information:

If you are still unsure of which type of fire extinguisher you need in your office you can book a fire extinguisher site survey.

Installing extinguishers

Ensure that your extinguishers are commissioned and installed by a service engineer at your premises. You will need the correct signage and to ensure that they are hung in the correct location.

Extinguisher maintenance

Once your extinguishers have been installed you are responsible to ensure that a monthly visual check is carried out, looking for the following:

  • Are there any signs of damage to the exterior?
  • Are there any blockages in the hose?
  • Are there any signs the extinguisher has been tampered with?
  • Is the extinguisher pressurised?

You must also ensure that an annual service of the extinguisher has been carried out by a trained engineer and in accordance with the British Standards.

Please note that where self-maintenance extinguishers are installed, a yearly visual inspection by your staff is required, which must be documented in your fire safety log book but no annual visit is required by an external engineer.

Fire alarms and manual call points

As the responsible person you will need to ensure that there is an adequate fire detection system in your offices. A common way to achieve this is to install fire alarms. The size, configuration and use of your office will define what sort of fire alarm system you require.

Make sure that all employees understand that the first thing to do if they discover a fire is to press the nearest manual call point (also called manual break points). This alerts all of your staff of the fire. New staff must be shown the call points during their induction period.

Where office buildings are shared with other companies, make sure that a system is in place for notifying all the companies in the building in the event of a fire.

Fire safety log book

It is essential that you keep a record of all your fire safety checks and fire drills in a fire safety logbook.

We offer a free online log book with custom reminders and the ability to print it if you wish to keep a hard copy. Keeping an online logbook will ensure that it is protected in the event of a fire so that you can show your due diligence and compliance.

Free online fire safety logbook from Safelincs
Our free online fire safety logbook
Angie Dewick-Eisele

Angie Dewick-Eisele

Marketing Manager

Angie has been our marketing manager since joining in 2002. She also has a keen interest in H&S issues.

Latest Posts by Angie Dewick-Eisele

A Guide to Fire Safety in Offices26th February 2021
CO Detectors and ‘False Alarms’16th February 2021
Safelincs Celebrates the Return of Furloughed Staff6th July 2020

Lighting the Way – What You Need to Know About Emergency Lighting

Why is emergency lighting necessary?

Eden Bulkhead Emergency Lighting
LED Emergency Lighting Bulkhead – Eden

As the responsible person it is your legal obligation to ensure that adequate emergency lighting is installed across all the escape routes and exits from every area of the building with a minimum backup duration of between 1 and 3 hours. Emergency lighting is essential to light escapes routes for emergency evacuations when normal mains-powered lighting fails.

There are different types of emergency lights, some function as a normal light and others function only as an emergency light source. As a starting point you should know what type of emergency light you want to install for example; do you want a maintained emergency light (stays on constantly) or a non-maintained emergency light (illuminates only in the event of a mains power failure)?

Your emergency lighting requirements

Jalite photoluminescent fire exit signs
Jalite photoluminescent fire exit signs

When deciding where to install emergency lights, take into account any hazards that there may be along the evacuation route, such as corners, stairways or uneven flooring. You must also ensure that fire alarm call points and equipment used for firefighting, such as extinguishers or fire blankets, are adequately illuminated to be easily seen or located. Some areas will require continued operation (e.g. a chemical processing room, operation theatre etc); higher continued lighting requirements must be considered in these areas.

A sub-category of emergency lighting is fire exit signs, which are green ‘running man’ signs with arrows that guide people towards the nearest exits. These are either internally lit in the same fashion as space emergency lighting or, in case sufficient other emergency lights are available, they can be photoluminescent. Such ‘glow-in-the-dark signs store energy from either natural or artificial light and releases this stored energy when the light source is no longer there, emitting a yellow/green glow to illuminate the text on the sign.

You should refer to your fire risk assessment to ensure that you have covered all the essential fire escape routes and addressed any hazards on your site that were highlighted in this assessment. It is a legal requirement to carry out a fire risk assessment and you should refresh this assessment if the activities within your premises change or if significant changes to the layout are made. You can find authoritative guidance in the government's fire risk assessment guides.

Buy emergency lights

Visit our emergency lights and signs section to view our full range of emergency lighting products.

Testing and maintenance

As with all fire safety equipment, regular testing of your emergency lights must be carried out to ensure that it is working correctly. You should test that the lights are triggered when the mains supply is cut, and also that all the lights are illuminated as they should be. This can be done with the use of a fish key.

You will need to test your lighting once a month and ensure that a full discharge test is carried once a year. Log the results as any other fire safety equipment tests in your fire safety logbook.

If you would like to know more about emergency lighting our emergency lighting guides can provide you with useful information.

Free reminder service

Sign up to our free reminder service to receive text or email reminders to regularly test your emergency lighting.

CO Detectors and ‘False Alarms’

CO detector false alarmsCO detectors, or carbon monoxide alarms, are essential for the detection of a deadly gas, carbon monoxide (CO). This gas cannot be seen, tasted or smelt and is only detected with the use of co detectors. It is produced through the incomplete combustion of fuel, such as gas, wood, coal and oil.

Before we go on to look at CO detector false alarms here is some advice on what you should do if your alarm goes off.

What to do when your CO detector goes off

If your CO detector goes off do not assume that it is a false alarm, remember carbon monoxide can’t be seen, tasted or smelt. You should assume that there is CO present and should follow these steps to ensure your safety.

  • Stay calm, open doors and windows to increase ventilation
  • Where safe to do so, turn off any fuel-burning appliance
  • Leave the premises and notify other occupants of the potential carbon monoxide leak (you should also notify any occupant of premises adjoined to your home as CO can seep through walls and floors
  • Call Gas Emergency Services 0800 111 999 or a local Gas Safe Registered Engineer to check for the source of carbon monoxide
  • Get medical help for anyone suffering from symptoms of CO poisoning

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

The main symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are:

Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms: persistent headaches

Persistent Headaches

Having persistent dull headaches and tension type headaches.

Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms: dizziness

Dizziness

Having waves of dizziness or feeling light headed and off balance.

Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms: nausea/vomiting

Nausea / Vomiting

Feeling like you need to be sick (nausea) and actually being sick (vomiting).

Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms: stomach pains

Stomach Pains

Pains in your stomach or lower abdomen, sometimes accompanied by diarrhoea.

Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms: difficulty breathing

Difficulty Breathing

Sudden shortness of breath or difficulty breathing (dyspnoea).

Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms: tiredness

Tiredness

Having no energy or feeling tired, sleepy, lethargic and sluggish.

Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms: sudden collapse

Sudden Collapse

Sudden collapse, seizures or loss of consciousness.

Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms: confusion

Confusion

Confusion, difficulty concentrating and becoming easily irritated.

CO detector false alarms

A false alarm is when your CO detector alarms and where no carbon monoxide is detected by your engineer. There could be several reasons for this:

  • The carbon monoxide detected did not come from your own appliances but may have seeped through the walls or floor from a neighbour. Check if your neighbours have fuel-burning appliances that might emit carbon monoxide Carbon monoxide might escape from chimney stacks allowing carbon monoxide to enter your premises via a joint loft space.
  • The replace-by date may have been exceeded. CO alarms become erratic once expired. This is the most common reason for false alarms.
  • Excessive moisture from a bathroom may set off your CO alarm. CO alarms should not be installed in areas with excessive steam.
  • Lead acid battery chargers produce hydrogen gas which sets off CO detectors. Keep this in mind if you are charging your caravan/boat battery at home.
  • Freshly screeded floors emit a gas that sets off carbon monoxide alarms.
  • The carbon monoxide alarm that you have installed may not be suitable for the type of premises, for example if it is installed in a caravan, tent, boat or living quarters of a horsebox you will need to ensure that your alarm is Kitemarked to BS EN50291-2. Alarms tested to BS EN50291-1 are only for use in home environments and are not suitable for camping and caravanning.
  • On rare occasions if here is a heavy smoker in a room that is poorly ventilated the CO from smoking may trigger an alarm.
  • Homes that are adjacent to very busy roads may experience higher levels of CO in the home when windows are open as traffic fumes may enter the room and set your alarm off.
  • The sound that your alarm is making may not be the alarm sound to alert you that there are dangerous levels of CO present. Most alarms have several audible sounds to indicate things such as low battery warning or that there is a fault with the alarm. When you install an alarm read the user manual and get to know what the different sounds indicate. Keep the manual safe so that you can refer to it should the alarm go off.

Buying a CO detector

You should have a carbon monoxide detector in every room where there is a solid fuel burning appliance. Only chose CO detectors that have met the rigorous testing standards of the European standard EN50291. That way you will have peace of mind that this vital alarm has been manufactured and tested to the highest standards.

If you are looking for a CO detector that you can also take on holiday, for caravanning, camping or using on a boat look out for ones that are Kitemarked to BS EN50291-2. The only other consideration is if you would like a detector that gives you a visual display of CO levels.

Digital Carbon Monoxide Alarm - Kidde 7DCO
  • FREE delivery
  • Product Life: 10 years
  • Battery: replaceable AA alkaline batteries included
  • Warranty: 10 year warranty
  • Displays CO levels from 10ppm
  • Peak Level Memory - recalls highest CO levels
  • Ideal for domestic use and camping, caravans & boats
  • Kitemarked to BS EN50291-1 and BS EN50291-2
£16.91 inc VAT
£14.09 ex VAT
Buy Now
                                        

If you are unsure if you have the correct carbon monoxide alarm installed our customer care team are here to help. You can call them on 0800 612 6537 or email support@safelincs.co.uk.

Angie Dewick-Eisele

Angie Dewick-Eisele

Marketing Manager

Angie has been our marketing manager since joining in 2002. She also has a keen interest in H&S issues.

Latest Posts by Angie Dewick-Eisele

A Guide to Fire Safety in Offices26th February 2021
CO Detectors and ‘False Alarms’16th February 2021
Safelincs Celebrates the Return of Furloughed Staff6th July 2020

Smoke Alarm Beeping in the Night – A New Help Guide

Smoke alarm beeping in the night and keeping you awake? Whether you have a mains powered, interlinked smoke alarm or a battery powered smoke alarm, follow our guidance below to troubleshoot the beeping.

What sound is your alarm making?

Alarm is sounding continuously

  • First check there is no smoke or fire in your property
  • Make sure the beeping is definitely coming from your smoke alarm. Other alarms in the property such as a carbon monoxide alarm or burglar alarm could be responsible for the noise.
  • Clean the alarm if it is dusty or dirty. Vacuum around the alarm or use a hairdryer to blow out dust on a cool setting.
Replace by date on the back of a smoke alarm
Replace by date on back of smoke alarm
  • Check the replace by or manufacture date on your alarm. Smoke alarms usually last for a maximum of 10 years, so if the manufacturing date is approaching 10 years or more than 10 years, it’s time to get a new alarm. Sensors inside the alarm deteriorate after this time causing the alarm to be less effective.
  • Check the position of your alarm. There are different types of smoke alarm suitable for specific locations in your home. Find out more below about positioning your alarm.
  • Your smoke alarm may be damaged or have developed a fault. Exposure to water, fire, grease and certain types of paint can cause a fault to develop.

Alarm is beeping intermittently

  • Replace the battery* in your smoke alarm. Ensure you are using the correct battery type and are inserting it the correct way around. If the battery is low, it is more likely to sound at night as a drop in room temperature can impact the battery’s ability to power the alarm.
  • Check the manufacture date on your alarm. Smoke alarms usually last for a maximum of 10 years, so if the manufacturing date is approaching 10 years or more than 10 years, it’s time to get a new alarm. Sensors inside the alarm deteriorate after this time causing the alarm to be less effective.
  • Your smoke alarm may be damaged or have developed a fault. Exposure to water, fire, grease and certain types of paint can cause a fault to develop.

* All new or recently extended homes should have mains powered, interlinked alarms fitted which also have a back-up battery. Intermittent chirping in mains-powered alarms is often caused by low power in the back-up battery.

What to do next

Suspect a fault?

If you suspect your smoke alarm has developed a fault, replace it as soon as possible. If you bought your alarm from Safelincs, you may be covered by warranty as all of our alarms have a minimum guarantee of 5 years. If you need a new smoke alarm, browse our range of battery smoke alarms or mains powered alarms.

Need replacement batteries?

Smoke alarms usually require either Alkaline AA batteries, an Alkaline 9V battery or a Lithium 9V battery. Buy replacement batteries for your smoke alarm as soon as possible.

Mains powered smoke alarm need replacing?

Mains powered smoke alarm beeping in the night

Whether your smoke alarm is mains powered or battery powered, it should be replaced after 10 years due to a deterioration of the sensors. Battery alarms are easily changed and installed, but how do you replace a mains powered alarm? Most mains powered alarms can be replaced without the need for an electrician if you purchase an Easichange® replacement head.

Replace BRK 600 or 700 series Smoke Alarm
Help with a Ei / Aico mains powered Smoke or Heat Alarm

Discontinued alarm need replacing?

If you need to purchase a replacement alarm, but find that your existing model has been discontinued, you can check our replacement models guide to find the closest match.

Smoke alarm positioned correctly?

The type of sensor an alarm has determines where it should be positioned in the home. False alarms may be due to the wrong alarm type being used in or near a steamy, dusty or smoky environment.

  • Heat alarms are more suited to areas such as the kitchen or garage that are often smoky or dusty. Other types of sensors would be prone to false alarms in these areas.
  • Optical smoke alarms are ideal for bedrooms, living rooms and ground floor hallways.
  • Ionisation smoke alarms are ideal for use on landings, but will be prone to false alarms if located near a kitchen.

To avoid causing false alarms or affecting the performance of an alarm, it is good practice to avoid installing alarms in the following locations:

  • Next to a door, window, air vent or fan that would create a draft
  • Outside
  • Anywhere that airflow would be obstructed by curtains or furniture
  • Locations that are steamy or humid such as a shower room

Find out more about positioning your smoke alarm in your home or take a look at our help guides for more information about types of alarm sensor.

Always ensure you act as quickly as possible to change or replace a defective smoke alarm or you could be endangering lives. If you require any further assistance, contact our customer service team on 0800 612 6537 or email support@safelincs.co.uk.

Fire door – Keep shut! Compliance in residential blocks

Fire doors; why are they important in flats?

Fire doors save lives: Flats that open out into communal areas are legally required to have front doors that can withstand fire for at least 30 minutes. If a fire breaks out in one of the flats, the fire door will stop the fire and smoke from spreading to communal areas and corridors, allowing residents to escape the building safely. To ensure they are effective, as the responsible person, you also have a legal responsibility to make sure all fire doors are in good working order and that fire door compliance in your building is not compromised.

Is fire door compliance at risk due to the behaviour of residents?

Example of Fire Door Keep Shut sign

Keeping fire doors closed: It goes without saying that a fire door will only do its job to contain a fire and smoke if it is closed. Fire doors should always be fitted with a door closer to ensure that the door automatically closes whenever it is used. Resident’s behaviour and a lack of understanding of the function and importance of fire doors can mean that in practice the effectiveness of fire doors is in jeopardy.

Fire doors, due to their heavy construction and their door closer, may pose a particular problem for disabled residents, those with impaired mobility or elderly people. In these circumstances, fire doors can seem impractical and a barrier to free movement. Where fire doors have been fitted as an entrance door to a flat a tenant may therefore try to find a solution that will enable them to open their flat entrance door with more ease. Common misuse of fire doors in this way involves doors being wedged or propped open for convenience, or fire door closers being disengaged.

However inconvenient or impractical, without effective fire doors in all parts of the building, everyone’s fire safety is compromised and as the responsible person you may be liable for prosecution under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Educating residents of the importance of keeping fire doors shut can be a real challenge. Especially if tenants change frequently. Displaying information in communal areas and ensuring that tenants have been made aware of fire safety procedures can be helpful but even with this awareness you can not be certain that residents will not tamper with the automatic closing action of a fire door.

How can fire doors be legally held open without compromising their effectiveness in a fire?

Install free-swing door closers such as the Freedor Smartsound Door Closer. This clever device allows the fire door to swing freely as a normal door would. But, when it ‘hears’ the fire alarm sound, it functions as a normal door closer and closes the door automatically. The Freedor SmartSound can also be used to fix or ‘retain’ the door in an open position, releasing it when the alarm sounds. The Freedor is easy to install on existing doors and as it is battery operated it requires no wiring by an electrician.

In communal areas Dorgard Fire Door Retainers are an effective solution. The retainer will hold the door open in a fixed position, giving easy access in corridors or shared spaces. It will release the fire door when it hears the fire alarm. It is a legal solution for your access problems without compromising fire safety.

What else should be done to ensure fire door compliance is maintained?

Carry out quick visual checks and ensure that your fire doors are inspected by a trained person on a regular basis. Visually checking the fire doors in your building on a regular basis could highlight any issues at the earliest opportunity. You should look out for the following things:

  • Is the automatic overhead door closer or free-swing door closer in good working order? Automatic door closers should close the door shut when released.
  • Are the fire seals around the door free from damage and securely fitted? Fire seals or intumescent strips should sit snuggly in the door frame or in a groove around the edges of the door. They expand during a fire to stop flames and smoke spreading through the gaps. They are a legal requirement for the front door of any flat that leads to a communal area.
  • Does the fire door close properly? The door should fit well into the frame with no large gaps and should close fully. Using a Fire Door Gap Gauge will help to effectively measure any gaps and ensure they are within the required limits.

Safelincs offers an in-depth inspection of your fire doors. Our BRE certified inspectors ensure all fire doors throughout your building remain fit for purpose and will make recommendations of any further action that should be taken. Any further necessary remedial work on the fire doors can be carried out by our certified engineers if required.

Carbon monoxide poisoning: Who is most at risk?

Protecting vulnerable or low-income households this winter

As winter approaches and the nights draw in, we are all trying to stay warm at home. With increased use of fuel burning appliances such as log burners or gas boilers, we are all at greater risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. With over 4000 people attending A&E departments due to carbon monoxide poisoning in England each year, are some households more at risk than others?

Staying safe in the dead of winter

Dr Sotiris Vardoulakis 1 from Public Health England stated that many deaths relating to CO poisoning occur between November and February due to faulty fossil fuel and wood burning appliances leaking this lethal gas. He urges everyone to have their solid fuel burning appliances checked by a registered engineer before the start of winter and to have a suitable carbon monoxide alarm installed in each room containing an appliance.

Kidde carbon monoxide alarm placed near a gas fire
Kidde carbon monoxide alarm located near a gas fire

Who is most at risk?

Recent studies have shown that lower income households are more at risk of CO poisoning. Research carried out by the National Energy Action charity and the Gas Safety Trust found that 35% of low income and vulnerable households surveyed exceeded the 10ppm threshold for carbon monoxide levels. This threshold indicates levels of CO that are harmful with prolonged exposure, having adverse effects on the body and brain.

Why are low income and vulnerable households more at risk? 

There is shown to be a direct correlation between fuel poverty and carbon monoxide poisoning. Lower income households are often reliant on older boilers to heat their homes. These are often less efficient and carry a greater risk of emitting CO gas if not properly serviced and maintained. Some households in this category did not have a central heating system and were reliant on smaller, often older heaters or even gas stoves or cookers to heat their homes.

Research carried out by Dr Andy Shaw from Liverpool John Moores University found that deprived areas were less likely to own an audible CO alarm than homes in non-deprived areas, further increasing the risk of CO poisoning. As these households are more at risk of the presence of CO gas, having a detector is vital. CO gas is otherwise undetectable by humans without the presence of a CO detector due to it having no colour, taste or smell.

Over 60s were also found to be particularly vulnerable to CO poisoning. This could be attributed to the likelihood of them spending more time at home and feeling the cold, resulting in the need to use an appliance more regularly to stay warm. Elderly people, or those with respiratory problems are also more at risk from the effects of carbon monoxide, becoming ill more quickly. With symptoms being similar to those of flu or food poisoning, a headache, nausea and dizziness may be attributed to those common illnesses rather than to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Headache or dizziness is a symptom of co poisoning
The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can easily be mistaken for flu or a common cold or sickness bug

Other groups shown to be disproportionately affected by CO poisoning include pregnant women, young children, anyone with an existing respiratory condition and elderly people.

Common symptoms to look out for

Otherwise known as ‘the silent killer’, carbon monoxide can cause severe symptoms and even death if not detected quickly. Look out for these symptoms in yourself or others:

Symptoms of CO Poisoning

Supporting those most at risk

We can all play our part to ensure that vulnerable people and lower income households are protected against carbon monoxide poisoning. By ensuring that everyone follows these simple guidelines, we can help to protect ourselves and our communities.

  1. Be in the know about CO. Would you be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of CO poisoning? Learn how to spot the dangers, signs and symptoms of CO poisoning and help to educate those around you. Findings by the Gas Safe Register2 in 2019 revealed that only one in five respondents said they would be aware of a carbon monoxide leak in their homes if they felt unwell.
  2. Have your gas or solid fuel appliances serviced regularly. According to the latest UK inspection figures from Gas Safe Register, 5.5 million homes in the UK have unsafe gas appliances. When did you last have your appliance checked?
  3. Install a CO alarm where required. It is recommended that a carbon monoxide alarm be installed in every room in the house containing an appliance that could leak CO gas.  Is your home covered? Check with vulnerable friends, family or neighbours to see if they need help installing a carbon monoxide alarm.

The All-Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group (APPCOG) is calling for protection for the most vulnerable households in England to be a priority. Their recommendations include making it mandatory for CO alarms to be installed in every property whether it be private rented, social housing or owner-occupied. Scotland is introducing new regulations next year which include a stipulation to fit a carbon monoxide alarm in every home. It is hoped that other countries within the UK will follow suit.

Further information and advice on carbon monoxide poisoning including the signs and symptoms, and what to do in a CO emergency can be found on our information page. You can also download our printable information sheet which can be placed in a prominent place in your home. Or, why not give it to, or talk it through with anyone who you think could be vulnerable to carbon monoxide poisoning. This resource contains an action plan for what to do if a CO alarm sounds and what symptoms to look out for as well as general awareness.

Carbon monoxide poisoning information sheet printable download
Download our information sheet and share with relatives or friends

References:

  1. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/reduce-the-risk-of-carbon-monoxide-poisoning-over-winter
  2. https://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/news/news-2020/over-80-of-uk-adults-at-risk-of-missing-hangover-like-carbon-monoxide-poisoning-symptoms/

Working towards a greener and more sustainable future

solar panels on the office roof generate 80% of our total energy usage
1000sqm solar panels have been installed on our warehouse roof

At Safelincs, sustainability is one of our core brand values which we take very seriously. The global challenge of reducing carbon emissions is huge, but we believe that every company and individual can make a difference. That is why, at Safelincs, we aim to work towards a greener and more sustainable future by making progress on issues such as recyclable packaging, renewable energy supply, sustainable transport and waste reduction. We also encourage our staff to engage with smaller changes such as protecting our own green spaces and providing our staff with palm oil-free chocolate and fair trade coffee.

Renewable energy

Our site is powered by 100% renewable electricity and we have made use of our large warehouse roofs to install 1000sqm of solar panels which provides 60% of our total electricity usage. New dynamic heating thermostats in each office space allows staff to better regulate the temperature in their environment instead of opening doors and windows. We have just replaced our gas boilers with the latest condensing technology and invested in LED lighting throughout the site and low energy computers which helps us to reduce energy consumption.

We are excited to have recently added our first fully electric car – a Tesla 3 – to our fleet of company vehicles. The Tesla will be mainly powered from an onsite charging point during peaktime of solar PV production, making it a genuine environmental option. We hope to increase our number of electric vehicles, eventually working towards a completely ‘green’ fleet.

Our new Tesla-3, a fully electric company car
Tesla-3 – our first fully electric company car

Partnering to reduce plastic packaging

We feel strongly about reducing plastic packaging and have been working hard with suppliers to ensure that, where possible, plastic is eliminated. We encourage our partners to supply us with products packaged using cardboard. We have also largely eliminated the use of plastic packaging materials and are using almost exclusively cardboard for all packaging. Our padding materials are produced inhouse by two specialist shredding/wrinkling machines that use the cardboard received into the company.

Our packaging boxes are made from recycled card
Recycled card packing boxes in our warehouse

Waste reduction

Our staff understand the importance of recycling and re-using across our business. Any new starter is introduced to our waste management systems including our multiple recycling bins and our process regarding re-usable batteries. We aim to educate and inform employees in any environmental issues that may affect their work. For example, we work with a member of the team in charge of office supplies to ensure that any stationary items ordered only contain recycled paper. Safelincs challenges its team members to find new ways in which we can collectively work towards a more sustainable future.

Safelincs also contribute to Valpak’s WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Distributer Take-Back Scheme. Our monetary contribution helps local authorities across the UK to increase the rate of collection, re-use and recycling of electrical equipment.

Innovation in product development

We are mindful that within the fire safety industry there are environmental challenges and are always on the look out for alternatives. For example, we promote long-lasting products such as the range of P50 fire extinguishers which only need re-filling every ten years rather than the standard 5 years. They also have an impressive 20-year lifespan and are also service-free, saving engineer travel year after year.

Our range of Water Mist Fire Extinguishers is something that we are proud of. These extinguishers are totally environmentally friendly containing 100% de-ionised water which is delivered in microscopic droplets to extinguish flames. These extinguishers are very versatile and can even be used on electrical fires. They are fully recyclable and contain no chemicals meaning that they are non-toxic to humans or wildlife. They also leave no mess or residue to clean up after use.

Every little helps!

Fair trade coffee, tea and chocolate and locally sourced fruit for the office staff.
Fair trade Staff Room supplies!

As well as working towards a sustainable future with our bigger initiatives, we also work with our staff to make smaller, more environmental changes in many areas. Our staff room is always stocked with free fruit, sourced from our local greengrocer, fair trade coffee, plastic-free tea bags and palm oil free chocolate. No one goes hungry! But, by encouraging these practices in the workplace, we hope that by leading by example, our employees will adopt some of these little environmental wins at home.

Safelincs are lucky to have green space on our site and recently staff braved the rain to plant wildflower seed which we hope will encourage bees and other insects to visit in the warmer months. Very soon, we plan to plant trees on our site to further create a natural area to be enjoyed by staff and nature!

Making the most of our green space - creating a wildflower garden
Creating a wildflower garden on site

Sustainability vs profitability

Environmental alternatives often require an upfront investment. But in the longer term this can be much more cost effective. The cost saving benefits of solar panels, LED lighting and electric cars for example will be substantial in the long run and is an investment that we think is well worth making. We are dramatically reducing our environmental footprint by introducing these measures and the long term cost savings are an added benefit.

As we move towards becoming a carbon neutral company, Safelincs strives to integrate environmental considerations into all aspects of decision making and activity. We appreciate the importance of sustainability and hope to inspire our staff and local community to join us in championing a more environmental way of operating.


Are you in danger in your own home? Join the fight for a Gas Safe Nation

In light of the Covid 19 pandemic, safety is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. We all know that hand washing and basic hygiene are an essential part of life in 2020, but how many of us can be absolutely sure that our homes are gas safe? With Gas Safety Week celebrating its tenth year in 2020, it’s time to make sure that you, your friends and family are safe in your own homes.

Protect family and help them to get gas safe at home
Help loved ones and vulnerable individuals to get gas safe

Are you at risk of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

Do you have a gas fire, gas boiler or gas oven? Frighteningly, statistics published by Gas Safety Week show that 1 in 2 gas fires inspected by a Gas Safe Engineer are unsafe. Carbon Monoxide emissions from a poorly fitted, poorly ventilated or faulty gas appliance can be deadly or have severe side effects. Carbon monoxide is odourless and colourless meaning that without a detector, it is very difficult to detect its presence.

There are 2 simple steps to follow to protect yourselves, your family and friends:

  1. Have your gas appliances checked and serviced every year by a Gas Safe Engineer. You can find a gas safety engineer near you here. Check to see if loved ones and vulnerable friends or neighbours have a gas safety certificate that is up to date.
  2. Install an audible carbon monoxide alarm and make sure your friends and relatives have one too. Check that they are marked EN50291 and display the British Standards’ Kitemark. You can find a great selection here that are suitable for use at home.

Common cold or Carbon monoxide poisoning?

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are much like those of a common cold or flu to begin with but can ultimately lead to a coma and death. Headaches, nausea, dizziness, a sore throat or dry cough are all common complaints, but could be as a result of exposure to CO gas. If friends, family or loved ones complain of these symptoms, seem confused or are drowsy and are having trouble breathing, you need to be alert. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, open all the windows and doors and leave your home immediately. Turn off any appliances that are in use and turn the gas off at the mains if you can. Call the Gas Emergency Services on 0800 111 999 as soon as you can. You should seek medical help straight away if you think that anyone in your household has carbon monoxide poisoning.

Identify symptoms of CO poisoning

Gas safety and Covid 19

There may be some nervousness about engineers visiting your home due to the spread of infection during the current pandemic. Tradesman have strict guidelines to follow set out by the government, but if you are worried you should check what measures your Gas Safe Engineer will be putting in place when he or she visits your home. It is important to proceed with your annual check if you can as you could be putting your family in danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. With some Covid 19 restrictions still in place, and many people working remotely, we are all spending more time at home. It is now as important as ever to make your home a safe place for you and your family.

Good carbon monoxide detector to use at home
Digital Display Carbon Monoxide Alarm 10 Yr Life – Kidde 5DCO

Protect loved ones with a carbon monoxide detector

If you have vulnerable or elderly friends, relatives or neighbours, why not give them peace of mind and help them to install a carbon monoxide detector? Carbon monoxide can travel through adjoining walls and so even if you are absolutely sure that all the appliances in your home are gas safe, a detector is the only way to have complete peace of mind. Many detectors have a long life and so remain reliable for long periods and with options for audio and visual cues, there is an alarm suitable for everyone. All of our Kidde battery-operated alarms are available for FREE delivery, so you can have them delivered directly to loved ones for no extra cost and with free standing options available and the battery included on many models, they can be up and running immediately on arrival. Why not browse the range here?

Gas Safety Week challenges us all to think about making our homes as safe from the dangers of gas as possible. For more information and advice, head to the gas safety week website. Or, for more information on CO alarms, please contact our customer care team on 0800 612 6537.

Is Your Holiday Home Protected From The ‘Silent Killer’? Carbon Monoxide Responsibilities For Accommodation Providers

When someone books a holiday, what features do they look for? Maybe a hot tub, fire pit or log burner for that little bit of luxury? A carbon monoxide detector might not be top of the list, but with carbon monoxide (CO), or the ‘Silent Killer’ responsible for around 60 accidental deaths every year in England and Wales, ensuring your holiday accommodation is CO safe should be a priority. Did you know that as a holiday home owner in England, you have a legal responsibility to comply with regulations relating to carbon monoxide safety? Holiday-makers want to have peace of mind that their safety is a top priority when booking a holiday, and carbon monoxide safety is no exception.

Why is carbon monoxide dangerous?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a highly poisonous gas with no smell or taste and can be difficult to detect without the aid of a carbon monoxide detector. Symptoms such as tiredness, shortness of breath, nausea and headaches can be easily mistaken for flu or food poisoning. However, after exposure to high levels for 2 hours, the person may become unconscious and could die from this poisonous gas. With such sudden consequences, early detection is critical.

Accommodation providers: Your responsibilities

CO gas is produced by the incomplete burning of fuels containing carbon, for example coal, wood, gas or charcoal. A build-up in emissions of CO gas can come from:
• Faulty gas appliances
• Fuel burning stoves, open fires or BBQs used in poorly ventilated areas
• Running a car engine in an enclosed space.

Holiday Home Owners, like landlords, have a responsibility to ensure that their properties are compliant with the regulations Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015. These regulations state that a carbon monoxide detector should be fitted in any room that has a solid fuel burning appliance such as a log burner or open fire. Whilst not a legal requirement, it is also advisable to install a detector in any room with a gas or oil burning appliance such as a boiler or oven. You should also check and log all smoke and CO alarms on change-over day for added peace on mind.

The maintenance of gas appliances in all properties is also of paramount importance. The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 outlines the legal duties of self-catering accommodation providers to ensure the safety of any guests. All gas appliances should be installed and checked annually by a Gas Safe Engineer. Accommodation providers need to ensure adequate ventilation throughout the holiday accommodation. This is of particular importance in caravans, lodges and tents or glamping pods.

Provide information for your tenants

With frequent change-over of tenants and short-term occupancy, it may also help to provide a factsheet with guidance on carbon monoxide safety. Information such as how to locate and turn off the mains gas supply, what to do if the carbon monoxide alarm goes off or who to contact in an emergency may prove invaluable. Some tenants will be unfamiliar with gas appliances and general advice on how to use them safely could be useful.

Furthermore, unlike some smoke alarms that are prone to false triggers, a CO alarm is very unlikely to go off unless it detects carbon monoxide. False alarms are very unlikely and residents should be advised to act immediately and assume it is an emergency situation. Many people are not aware of the CO emissions from BBQs and camp fires. Cosy fires and family BBQs can prove deadly if emissions are allowed to accumulate in a tent, glamping pod or caravan. Campsites or caravan sites are advised to alert campers to the possible dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning from these activities.

Confidence in the UK holiday market

With the trend in UK ‘staycations’ looking set to continue into next year, ensuring the safety of guests in all accommodation will only help to increase confidence in UK holidays. Families should have peace of mind that their safety is of the utmost importance. There are many options for carbon monoxide alarms including combined or separate smoke and CO alarms, audible and visual cues and fixed or portable units. The requirement of each accommodation type varies depending on size, risks and structure.

The Kidde 7DCO alarm is a great solution for most providers as it is Kitemarked as safe for use in all domestic situations as well as in caravans, boats and tents. Its 10-year lifespan, digital display and option for free-standing or wall-mounting makes it a reliable and flexible option. And, with readings taken every 15 seconds and displayed on the digital panel, guests would have complete peace of mind that they are protected from the ‘silent killer’.

A suitable carbon monoxide alarm
Digital Display Carbon Monoxide Alarm 10 Yr Warranty – Kidde 7DCO

If you are an accommodation provider and would like more information, please contact our customer care team on 0800 612 6537.

Disposable Face Shields

In pubs, receptions and public places staff frequently wear face masks covering nose and mouth to protect themselves and the public against the spread of airborne germs and viruses. This is usually sufficient to offer reasonable protection. However, what happens if a member of the public falls ill and the member of staff has to provide support or even first aid?

Disposable face shield protects against  airborne germs, bacteria, and viruses.
Disposable face shield protects against airborne germs, bacteria, and viruses

A face mask on its own is not sufficient protection if the ill person coughs or sneezes. Droplets could easily infect the first aider through their eyes or where the mask does not fully seal around the mouth and nose. In such cases a face shield is required. However, in places of work where there are multiple staff members it is impractical to store hard plastic face shields for such an emergency. The risk of cross-contamination is just too high and these hard plastic face shields need periodical sanitising to ensure they stay safe to use. Safelincs’ disposable face shields provide the ideal solution. They can be stored flat and can be rapidly deployed in an emergency. They offer a good field of vision, protect the entire face and do not slip even when kneeling down or moving rapidly.

After use they can simply be disposed of without having to clean them, preventing the risk of cross infection and spreading viruses such as COVID-19. They are supplied in packs of 20 and are very economic starting from £0.30 per shield. Please contact Safelincs if you have any questions or would like to trial these shields. Telephone 0800 612 6537 or email support@safelincs.co.uk.

Harry Dewick-Eisele

Harry Dewick-Eisele

Managing Director

MD and founder of Safelincs. Harry has a wealth of in-depth knowledge of all aspects of fire safety and related legislation.