Our new free fire extinguisher guide is a useful resource for anyone involved in purchasing fire safety equipment. Providing a complete overview to different types of fire extinguisher, this complete fire extinguisher guide answers our most frequently asked questions.
Ideal for fire wardens and anyone involved in purchasing fire safety equipment for businesses or organisations, it offers a complete introduction to fire extinguishers. It is also a useful reference tool for anyone starting out in the fire safety industry, such as fire extinguisher technicians.
An introduction to fire extinguisher types
Download this printable resource for a complete overview on fire extinguisher types and uses, including:
Fire extinguisher classes
Which fire extinguisher to use on which fire
Fire extinguishers for electrical fires
How does a fire extinguisher work?
Where should a fire extinguisher be located?
How many extinguishers are needed
Fire extinguisher ratings
Up to date advice on dealing with lithium-ion battery fires plus innovative new technologies like P50 Service-free Fire Extinguishers make this comprehensive guide a great new tool for businesses and organisations.
According to the Equality Act 2010, schools and educational premises have a duty to make reasonable adjustments where necessary for anyone with a disability. So, what is a reasonable adjustment? And, what can schools and universities do to improve access for all and meet fire safety requirements in education?
What is a reasonable adjustment?
The Equality Act 2010 tackles disability discrimination in schools and other organisations or businesses across society. It sets out a responsibility to remove barriers experienced by someone who has a disability. Anyone who has a disability should be able to receive the same service as far as possible as someone who is not disabled. What is considered a ‘reasonable’ adjustment will depend on things like the size of the organisation, and the money and resources available. It will also depend on the needs of the individuals who attend the setting.
Reasonable adjustments and fire safety in education
The adjustments you need to make to meet legal requirements for disability and fire safety will depend on what is set out in your fire risk assessment. It will also depend on the needs of the individuals who attend your school or university.
What examples are there of reasonable adjustments in schools or higher education establishments for fire safety?
A reasonable adjustment can be:
A change to the way things are done such as a change to a rule or policy. For example, this might involve a change to an escape route.
A change to a physical or architectural feature in a building or outside areas. This could include using a fire door retainer on internal fire doors to allow easier access for all or installing visual fire alarm beacons with louder audible sirens for anyone who has a hearing impairment.
Provision of extra services or aids. This could include providing an evacuation aid such as an evacuation chair.
The type of changes and extra aids or services will depend entirely on your circumstances and the needs of the individuals who attend your school or university. Fire safety requirements will be set out in detail in your fire risk assessment and should be implemented.
Fire door retainers and the Equality Act 2010
Fire door retainers such as Dorgard are a cost-effective and easy to install solution for improving access for all in schools and universities. Fire doors are a necessity in many buildings but can be a barrier to anyone with a mobility impairment as they are heavy to operate and difficult to manoeuvre in a wheelchair.
Dorgard is certified and tested to British Standards EN1155:1997 and EN 1634. It is a legal solution for holding open fire doors. This allows easier access for everyone including any disabled users with a mobility impairment. When the fire alarm sounds in your building, Dorgard will release the fire door so that it closes and provides the usual protection. You should never wedge or prop open fire doors using an uncertified device or object. The fire doors will be unable to provide any protection if they are open when a fire starts.
The University of London’s College Hall has found Dorgard to be an effective solution to accessibility in their building.
With only a small percentage of sports clubs and gyms having a defibrillator on site, is it an important addition to your sports facility’s first aid provision? We look at the risk posed by cardiac arrest and the life saving potential of defibrillators at sports clubs, gyms or sports centres.
Why are defibrillators important for sporting clubs or gyms?
Let’s look at the facts:
Research shows that over 90% of sudden cardiac arrests in young athletes happen either during or immediately after exercise.
The average age of people suffering from a cardiac arrest is between 35 and 44. But, some younger sportspeople may have an undiagnosed heart condition.
Apart from injuries that are directly related to the sport being played, cardiac arrest is the most common cause of death in young sports people.
Having an AED close at hand can make all the difference. Research shows that using an AED within 3 to 5 minutes of a cardiac arrest can mean survival rates are as high as 50-70%. Many lives have been saved during sporting activities by having an AED present at the time of cardiac arrest. Parkrun’s collection of stories from cardiac arrest victims highlights the importance of having an AED close by.
Is it a legal requirement for sports clubs or sports centres to have a defibrillator?
Whilst it is not currently a legal requirement in the UK for sports facilities to provide an AED, it is a valuable addition to the wellbeing and protection of sports players, club members and the local community.
Choosing a defibrillator for sports clubs and gyms
Anyone can use an automatic defibrillator – no training is required. They automatically deliver the shock to the heart. It is not possible to make matters worse if they are not used correctly.
Some defibrillators like the Heartsine 360P give better protection from water which may be a consideration if they are likely to be used outside. Look out for the AEDs IP rating which shows the level of protection from dust and water.
Consider the location for your AED. It should be easy to find in an emergency so it can be accessed as quickly as possible. The location will also determine whether you need to purchase an external defibrillator cabinet or an internal defibrillator cabinet. If you are locating the AED outside or somewhere like a football clubhouse where the temperature may drop below 8⁰C, then an external storage cabinet is required. These cabinets have integral heating to ensure the defibrillator stays at the optimum temperature. Because of the heating element, outdoor cabinets need to be installed by an electrician. Internal cabinets are simpler to install, just requiring screwing or bolting into the wall.
For events like Parkrun, marathons or large tournaments, an AED with a portable protective carry case is likely to be a good option. Many defibrillators come with carry cases, but they can also be purchased separately.
Maintaining your defibrillator
Community clubs, sports centres and gyms may be concerned about providing a defibrillator because of the maintenance requirements. Defibrillators self-test on a regular basis. They will flag up any issues, so maintenance of a defibrillator is not as daunting as it may first appear. One of the main things to look out for is expiry dates for pads and batteries.
Any AED will require replacement pads and batteries as these have an expiry date which varies depending on the manufacturer. Some AEDS such as Zoll AED 3 have a 5 year pad and battery life plus if you purchase a defibrillator from Safelincs, you can receive free replacement pads.
For complete peace of mind or if there is no one to carry out a visual inspection at your sports facility, we can organise a defibrillator inspection from one of our trained engineers as often as you like.
Defibrillator cost vs benefit
Although the initial outlay for a defibrillator can seem like a lot for a community organisation or sports facility, the potential for being able to offer life-saving treatment makes it a worthy investment. Defibrillators have relatively low maintenance costs and no requirement for training (for a fully automatic defibrillator). So, after the initial installation, AEDs can provide a service to the members and community without having high-cost implications. An important and worthwhile investment!
Most of us will come into contact with fire doors in our daily life, either at home, at work or in public buildings. But how much do you know about fire doors and their role in saving lives? We’ve compiled a list of key fire door questions based on what customers ask our experts in our fire safety forum.
1. Why are fire doors so important?
Fire doors are important because they keep fire or smoke in the room or ‘compartment’ in which it started. They stop it from spreading to other areas of the building. Fire doors are an integral part of any building’s passive fire protection system.
2. What do fire doors do?
Fire doors save lives and prevent further damage to the building and its contents:
They contain the fire in the room in which it started
Fire doors keep escape routes, such as corridors, clear from fire, giving occupants of the building longer to escape and better access for the fire service
They protect the remainder of the building, its contents and other buildings nearby from further damage.
3. How do fire doors work?
Fire doors prevent the spread of fire for a specified time. They are constructed from materials that will withstand fire for either 30 minutes or 60 minutes, depending on the fire door rating. Fire doors are fitted with intumescent strips in a groove on every edge of the door or fire door frame. When a fire breaks out, the heat causes the intumescent strips to expand to fill the gap between the fire door and the frame. This seals the room and stops the spread of fire for a given time. A fire door will only work if it is closed when the fire breaks out, so you should always ensure that your fire door is fitted with an automatic door closer and a sign that identifies the door as a fire door.
4. How are fire doors made?
Fire doors are usually thicker than a standard door and most have a solid core of variable material. The construction of fire doors varies depending on the manufacture. But, the critical part is that it is tested and certified to withstand fire for at least 30 minutes. Manufacturers must have the design of their fire doors and frames tested together as a set at an approved fire door testing centre. Then they must be considered for certification. When certification is approved, every fire door set constructed to the same design specifications by that manufacturer will be fixed with a label. The label identifies the manufacturer, date of manufacture and fire rating. This label can usually be found on the top edge of the door.
5. How long do fire doors last?
Fire doors and their frames are usually tested to hold back fire for 30 minutes (FD30) or 60 minutes (FD60). Their ability to withstand fire is dependent on them being properly installed with the correct seals and fire rated hardware including fire door closers. The condition of a fire door, especially one that’s in regular use could deteriorate over time. Check your fire doors regularly and ensure any fire door maintenance is attended to promptly. Fire door inspections can help to identify non-compliant fire doors. Fire doors can have a rating greater than 60 minutes but these are not required in most situations.
6. Are fire doors a legal requirement?
Fire doors are a legal requirement in all non-domestic properties, such as businesses, commercial premises, and public buildings. They are also required in residential flats and houses of multiple occupancy. As set out by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, building operators in England and Wales should appoint a ‘Responsible Person’ to manage their fire safety precautions. Their legal responsibilities include a duty to reduce the risk of fire spreading within the premises. Fire doors play an important part in reducing this risk in many buildings. These types of buildings should have a fire risk assessment carried out. Fire risk assessments are an in-depth review of the premises. They will highlight any fire risks with recommendations to reduce or eliminate these risks, including where fire doors should be used and what rating they should be.
7. Do I need fire doors in my house or flat?
Fire rated doors can be a great way to add extra protection against fire in your home. But are they a legal requirement?
Houses and bungalows: In many homes in the UK fire doors are not a legal requirement, however there are some exceptions. Building regulations details where fire doors should be used:
Any new build or home renovation that has three or more floors must have fire doors fitted to every habitable room that leads from a stairwell. This applies to loft conversions where an extra floor has been added to a two-storey home.
Any door leading from your home into an integral garage must be a fire door. In most domestic situations, FD30 (fire doors with a 30 minute fire rating) are sufficient.
Flats and HMOs: Your block of flats should have had a fire risk assessment carried out. This will detail which doors are required to be fire doors. Building regulations Approved Document B2 sets out the following standards:
Every flat within a block of flats or HMO should have a fire door fitted at the entrance onto the communal area.
Flats located on floors 4.5m above ground level must have a fire rated door fitted between all habitable rooms as well as the front door.
Ground floor flats do not usually need internal fire doors as long as each room has an accessible way to escape. They do still need a fire door to be fitted at the entrance if the front door opens onto a communal area such as a corridor.
FD30 fire doors (30 minute fire door rating) should be used for flats.
8. Can fire doors be painted?
Although fire doors must be fitted with fire rated hinges, locks and hardware, they do not need a special type of paint. You can paint fire doors using regular decorative paint or varnish without damaging their performance. Avoid using heat or chemical paint strippers if the intumescent seals are in place. Also avoid painting over any hinges, hardware or seals.
There is no need to compromise on style and decoration with fire doors. Choose from a wide range of glazing and finishing options including real wood veneer, Formica laminate or paint. Our fire doors can even be pre-painted in any RAL colour of your choice, saving time and hassle and giving a professional finish.
It is dangerous to ‘prop’ or ‘wedge’ open fire doors. Fire doors are fitted with self-closing devices so that if a fire breaks out, they close and will perform as intended. If a fire door is wedged open, it will not slow or stop the spread of fire. Using a fire door retainer or free-swing door closer will ensure that in the event of a fire the fire door will still automatically close, ensuring fire safety is maintained.
Fire doors can be heavy and cumbersome to operate. They can also cause accessibility issues in some buildings. Fire door retainers, like Dorgard, are a practical and legal solution to this issue. A Dorgard Fire Door Retainer can easily be fitted to an existing fire door and will hold the fire door open legally until it ‘hears’ the sound of your fire alarm. When the alarm sounds, Dorgard will release the fire door, allowing it to close, stopping the spread of fire. Fire door retainers can also help to improve ventilation.
Fire doors must be fitted by a competent individual. You should ensure that the person fitting your fire doors has had the relevant training to do so. Whatever the rating of a fire door, if it is badly fitted, it may not withstand a fire for any more than 5 minutes. There are legal requirements and specifications as set out by building regulations governing the installation of fire doors. The gap between the fire door and frame, for example, should be between 2 and 4mm. These specifications can be difficult to meet unless installation is by someone with experience and joinery skills.
The regulations around the fitting of fire doors can be confusing. Code of Practice for Fire Door Assemblies does not specify that any particular certification is required to install a fire door. However, The Fire Safety Order states that they should be installed by a competent person. That is someone with sufficient training and experience, qualifications, and knowledge.
Using a professional fire door installer will give a Responsible Person or homeowner peace of mind that the fitting has been carried out correctly and that the fire door will perform as it should in the event of a fire.
Buy selected products from Safelincs and help to raise vital funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK. We are pleased to announce that for a limited time, we will be donating £1 for every selected item sold.
Harry Dewick-Eisele, MD from Safelincs hopes that in addition to fundraising, home safety issues faced by people living with dementia will be highlighted “Safelincs aims to raise awareness of what can be done to support anyone living with symptoms of dementia to stay safe at home, particularly with regard to fire risks and carbon monoxide poisoning.”
Our new article 'Home Safety for People with Dementia' provides top home safety tips. We hope this will help families, friends or carers to protect people living with dementia as far as possible so that they can live safely at home.
The symptoms of dementia such as memory loss and confusion can mean that the risk of a fire occurring is greater. The likelihood of being affected by carbon monoxide poisoning from everyday appliances could also be increased. We hope to encourage everyone to support our fundraising by purchasing one of our selected smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms or other safety products either for themselves or for other vulnerable friends or family who may be more at risk.
Naomi Walters, Regional Fundraising Officer at Alzheimer’s Research UK said “There are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK and the condition has a devastating effect on hundreds of thousands of families. Alzheimer’s and the other forms of dementia are now one of society’s biggest medical challenges, but with research they can be overcome.
“We can’t thank Safelincs and their customers enough for raising vital funds for dementia research and helping us in our mission to make life-changing research breakthroughs possible for people with dementia.”
Help us to raise much needed funds that will support Alzheimer’s Research UK to continue to conduct vital research! They hope that their work into the causes, prevention, diagnosis and treatment mean future generations can be free from the fear, harm and heartbreak of dementia.
Fire door retainers have many benefits. They can help businesses to comply with fire door regulations, providing easy access for everyone and improving ventilation. In larger premises, maintaining a lot of individual fire door retainers could become a headache. Dorgard Pro fire door retainer system provides a solution, allowing central control of all the fire door retainers. It gives peace of mind that should a fire break out anywhere on-site, all the fire doors will automatically close.
How does it work?
The Dorgard Pro core system is made up of a central transmitter (Fireco ProHub) and fire door retainers (Dorgard Pro). The central transmitter can be wired directly into your existing fire alarm panel. Or, if this is not an option, the Fireco ProHub can be acoustically activated. When the ProHub is activated by the fire alarm, it communicates wirelessly to every Dorgard Pro fire door retainer. The wireless signal alerts each Dorgard Pro to release, ensuring that all fire doors close automatically. The status of each Dorgard Pro is monitored by the central transmitter and it will instantly alert you to any faults or low batteries.
Dorgard Pro fire door retainers are installed on existing fire doors throughout your premises. They have a carpet-friendly design and are battery powered by a 5 year ‘fit and forget’ battery. The Dorgard Pro retainers are not affected by high levels of background noise. They allow fire doors to be held open legally at any angle to improve access and ventilation throughout the building.
Flexibility for bespoke configuration
Fireco ProHub can also be linked to the InSite cloud based remote monitoring software. This software gives you the ability to monitor the live status of the system from your mobile phone or laptop, anywhere in the world!
Typically a Fireco Prohub has a range of up to 50m, depending on the type of environment. Fireco ProExtenders can be added to give a greater range for larger buildings. This allows up to 500 Dorgard Pro retainers to be controlled in one system. In addition, should premises be extended, extra units can be added any time after the initial installation to expand the system.
For added flexibility, Freedor Pro can also be added to the system. Freedor Pro is a free swing door closer which takes the weight out of heavy fire doors and can hold doors open at any angle. In the same way as the Dorgard Pro, Freedor Pro can also be centrally controlled by the ProHub.
Is it suitable for my premises?
The Dorgard Pro system is ideal for lots of environments, including schools and universities, hospitals and care homes, manufacturing, offices, hotels and hospitality, retail and public buildings. As it is unaffected by noisy environments and can be centrally controlled, the system is very versatile. Therefore, it lends itself to large sites where monitoring of each individual fire door retainer would be time consuming and difficult to manage.
As the Dorgard Pro system works in conjunction with your existing fire alarm and fire doors, there is no need for additional disruption or equipment. The wireless communication also means that there is very little wiring, if any (depending on how you connect the ProHub to the alarm panel) involved in the installation.
How do I get a quote?
Firstly, to provide you with a quotation, an engineer needs to visit your site to carry out a survey. The survey is free of charge and means we can design a system that is suited to your environment. Next, we will provide a quotation based on your system design.
If you decide to install Dorgard Pro, our team of engineers will come to your site and fit the system. Once it’s up and running, the Dorgard Pro system requires very little maintenance. Safelincs provides an exclusive 7 year extended warranty for added peace of mind.
Book a FREE site survey now!
Get in touch now to book your free site survey or find out more. Call 0800 612 6537 or fill out our short Dorgard Pro booking form to register your interest. After receiving your form, a member of our customer service team will be in touch to arrange the survey.
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.
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.
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.
Smoke alarm chirping 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.
Wired smoke alarm beeping?
* 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.
How to stop smoke alarm chirping
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 smoke alarm batteries as soon as possible.
Mains powered smoke alarm need replacing?
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 regulations are followed in your building.
Is fire door compliance at risk due to the behaviour of residents?
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 can be done to ensure fire door regulations are being met?
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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?
Install aCO 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.
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.
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.
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 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!
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!
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.