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.

Staying safe in later life

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As more of us are living alone as we get older, we need to ensure that, as we retain our independence, we also remain safe.
The 2011 census found that 9.2 million (16 per cent) of people, normally residing in England and Wales, were aged 65 and over, an increase of almost one million from the previous census in 2001. Of those, around 31 per cent were living alone.

As we grow older we want to maintain our independence for as long as possible, but it has to be taken into account that some of us will not be as alert as were when we were younger. The early onset of dementia is not always detected and can manifest itself in carelessness around the home. In addition, older people are often released from hospital earlier than they would have in the past and not always with sufficient carers to look after their safety and well-being.

Protection from fire

Accidental fires are a major concern for those living alone and, on average, two people over 65 a week in Great Britain are dying in house fires. Concerned relatives will want to take precautions to ensure that every step is taken to safeguard their loved ones.

The most obvious action is to ensure that adequate smoke alarms are installed in a property – a minimum of one on every floor. There is a range of mains and battery powered devices available; of particular interest are radio-interlinked smoke alarms, which are connected through radio frequency signals to ensure the fire alarm is raised throughout the residence. This is particularly important if high risk rooms, such as kitchens, are a distance away from bedrooms.

Hearing disabilities mean that up to one in seven people may not be woken up by a conventional smoke alarm system. Smoke alarms for the deaf and hard of hearing use high-intensity strobe lights and vibration pads, which are placed under the pillow at night.

Smoke alarms should be tested regularly, but for some of us this may be difficult if it involves being perched precariously on a chair! A friend or relative performing this task is the most sensible course of action. However, if an Ei radio-interlinked or hard-wired smoke alarm system is installed this can be tested remotely using a test switch that is either wireless or wired into the mains powered smoke alarm system in a convenient location. Turning on the “Test” switch will activate all interconnected smoke and heat alarms – equivalent to pressing the test button on an alarm.

Fire prevention in the kitchen

The kitchen is potentially the most calamitous area in the house with cooking appliances (mainly cookers and ovens) being the main source of ignition for more than half of all accidental dwelling fires, according to the most recent set of fire statistics for Great Britain.
Whilst a helpful fire prevention tool for all of us, stove alarms are particularly useful for those of us who may become distracted whilst cooking. A relatively recent innovation, these devices react and sound a warning when a cooker becomes too hot.

Specially designed for installation above a cooker, the Innohome Stove Alarm SA101 is simple to install. It attaches to the cooker hood using integrated magnets, however, it can also be fitted to the wall using screws. As they are battery operated there is no need for cables or an external power source. A loud 90dB alarm is activated if the cooker becomes too hot or when an empty hotplate is left on, warning of a hazardous situation before toxic gases are produced or a fire starts. The device includes a heat sensor that detects the temperature and the rate of increase in temperature. It intelligently learns from and adjusts its sensitivity to the users’ cooking pattern. The alarm does not react to fumes from cooking fat or steam. The SA101 is compatible with gas, electrical and dual-fuel cookers.

A even more sophisticated device, but compatible only with electric cookers, is the Innohome Stove Guard SGK 500. This is also attached to the cooker hood or wall. The intelligent heat sensor assesses the temperature of the cooker top and its rate of rise and identifies when a hazardous situation occurs. On detection of a hazard, the heat sensor wirelessly communicates with a control unit, which in turn cuts off the electricity supply to the cooker. The control unit also enables connection to social alarm systems such as Telecare.

Carbon Monoxide

Special attention needs to be paid to regularly servicing heating appliances and ensuring chimneys are swept. Carbon Monoxide (CO) is produced if there is not enough oxygen during the combustion process. It is commonly produced in appliances fuelled by LPG, natural gas, oil, petrol, wood or coal that have been badly fitted, are damaged, badly repaired or poorly maintained. CO is odourless, colourless and tasteless – the most dangerous common airborne poisoning in the world. Around 50 people a year die from CO poisoning in the UK, although some experts believe that this figure may be far higher because the symptoms are not easy to detect, with deaths often being attributed to old age.

All homes should be protected by carbon monoxide alarms. Battery models can be bought for less that fifteen pounds and some models have longlife, sealed-in ten year batteries that provide long-term peace of mind. Mains powered models can be wired into the electric circuit or plugged into a wall socket.

LPG and Natural Gas

Natural gas and LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) are used for heating, cooking or heating water. As we are getting older, we are becoming more likely to forget to switch off a gas appliance or to light it in the first place. If, however, a gas cooker is left on without being lit, an explosion could eventually occur. Devices for detecting such escaping LPG or natural gas in domestic properties are available and warn us of such an occurrence. The AMS S/200P gas alarm is simply plugged into a socket and delivers a visual (LED) and audible warning upon detection of flammable gases. It also features relay outputs for interconnection to external devices.

Safety checks

If you are caring for an elderly friend or relative it is advisable to do a quick safety check around the property. Are the escape routes uncluttered and easy to navigate? Are plug sockets overloaded? Some of us have a tendency to hold on to treasured electrical items such as old radios. These may well be far more sturdy and reliable than those on the market today, but how safe is the wiring?

How safe is the furniture? Items that have been bought many years ago will probably not meet the latest fire ratings. Impregnation sprays are available to protect soft furnishing, bedding and curtains as well as decorations against catching fire (useful on Christmas trees and decorations as well as soft furnishings). They come in three versions: ‘standard’ for treatment of decorations, real Christmas trees, paper etc., ‘washable’ (can be machine washed) for treatment of bedding, curtains etc. and ‘special’ for treatment of artificial flowers, plastic decorations etc.

Finally, is it a good idea to install a fire extinguisher, in case all the precautions fail? Fire services have traditionally preached that people should get out of the house straight away if a fire breaks out. However, a survey carried out by the FIA found that over a twelve month period over 1,600 injuries were prevented and 24 lives saved by the use of fire extinguishers. The general interpretation of the statistics was that an extinguisher (irrespective of size) will put out a small fire. Once it becomes too big it becomes difficult to tackle with any number of extinguishers and the building should be evacuated.

If a fire extinguisher is to be installed, the latest water mist appliance is the most versatile for the home. It works by dispersing microscopic ‘dry’ water mist particles to suppress fires and extinguish burning materials very rapidly. It can be used on just about every type of domestic fire, including deep fat fires, and can be safely operated on live electrical appliances, as it only contains de-ionised water which is unable to carry electrical current. There are no chemicals involved, so if it is discharged in a cooking area there is no danger of contaminated food.

If you have any specialist questions, please contact Safelincs on 0800 612 6537 and our friendly staff will be happy to help.