Fire Safety

You can take steps to stop fires from happening in your home.

  • If you have a smoke detector put in and it beeps now and then, it’s because the battery has run down. It’s important that you change the battery so the smoke detector will work all the time.
  • If we haven’t put in a smoke detector, you need to get one yourself.
  • Don’t overload electrical sockets.
  • Make sure electrical items have a safety mark when you buy them and keep them in good working order.
  • If you live in a block with covered communal areas DO NOT leave any items in the common areas.
  • Make sure cigarettes are put out properly, use a proper ashtray and don’t smoke in bed.
  • Make sure small children can’t reach or see any matches.
  • Don’t use candles near curtains or other things that could catch fire, and make sure they are put out properly.
  • If you are cooking food, never leave it alone or overfill chip pans, and don’t throw water on a chip-pan fire.
  • Plan a way to get out of your home with your family and make sure everyone knows where the exit will be in case of a fire.
  • Close all doors at night.
  • Don’t leave appliances like washing machines or dishwashers running when you go to bed.
If the smoke alarm goes off:
  • Take your family to where it’s easy to escape in case there’s a fire.
  • Check all rooms for signs of smoke.
  • Feel around each door before opening it. If there’s any sign of heat, smoke or noise, don’t open the door.
If a fire has started:
  • Don’t try to put it out yourself. Smoke and fumes can kill in minutes.
  • Get everyone out of the house and call the fire service on 999, unless you live in a scheme where there is a ‘stay put’ procedure.
  • Don’t go back for any reason.
If there’s no sign of smoke or a fire:

Something may have made the alarm go off by mistake and you probably need to reset it. This can happen if:

  • A heater or clothes drier is too near it.
  • Someone smokes a cigarette or pipe near it.
  • A spray is used nearby.
  • There’s too much steam or fumes from cooking, such as roasting meat or burnt toast.
  • There are strong draughts from nearby doors and windows.
  • Some insects have flown close to the alarm.
  • The back-up battery (if any) is low.

If you can’t find out why the alarm has gone off, contact our office. Never disconnect the alarm. This will put you and your family at risk.

To reset the smoke alarm:
  • If it has a HUSH button, press the button. The alarm will stop for 10 seconds but it then beeps every 40 seconds. If the problem doesn’t clear after 10 minutes, the alarm will keep going.
  • If there is no HUSH button, turn off the electricity supply at the consumer unit for at least 15 minutes. Then switch the electricity back on.
To test your alarm:
  • Press and hold the test button for a few seconds. The alarm should sound.
  • If the alarm doesn’t sound, try cleaning it and test again.
  • If the alarm still doesn’t sound, contact our office.
To clean your alarm:

Use the nozzle of your vacuum cleaner to get rid of any dust from the vents.

Fire in your building, not in your flat? Stay put

Gas Safety in your home

How to keep you and your home safe

Unless gas appliances are serviced regularly they can become dangerous and can kill. We will check your gas appliance(s) every 12 months; failure to allow us into your home to check these will mean that your are in breach of your tenancy.

  • Make sure you allow us in to conduct an annual gas safety check;
  • Check for warning signs your appliances aren’t working correctly eg lazy yellow or orange flames instead of crisp blue ones, black marks on or around the appliance and too much condensation in the room;
  • Don’t use a gas appliance if you have any doubt that it isn’t working properly. If in doubt, call the office;
  • Know the six signs of carbon monoxide poisoning – headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, nausea, collapse and loss of consciousness;
  • Have an audible carbon monoxide alarm. This will alert you if there is carbon monoxide in your home. Our contractor checks these annually and replaces them if required;
  • Never carry out any gas works yourself;
  • Make sure you know where to find your gas meter and how to turn off the gas in an emergency. If you are not sure our contractor attending the service can assist you with this;
  • Never block up air ventilation points and ensure that the gas flue is kept clear at all times.

For more gas safety advice, visit the GCS website or the Gas Safe Register website. Alternatively, you can call the free helpline on 0800 408 5500.

I can smell gas – what do I do?

If you think you can smell gas or fumes:

Call the National Grid gas emergency call centre on 0800 111 999.

  • Evacuate the property;
  • Keep people away from the area affected;
  • Wait near – but not in – the property. The National gas emergency service will be with you within two hours;
  • Turn off the gas at the meter;
  • Open windows and doors;
  • Put out naked flames;
  • Don’t use electrical switches;
  • Turn off all natural gas fuel burning appliances including cookers, fires, boilers etc.

If you have any symptoms of nausea or headaches you need to seek immediate medical attention.

There’s a power cut – what do I do?

Damp and Mould

What is condensation?

It starts as moisture from cooking, washing or drying clothes indoors on radiators. The moist air condenses on cool surfaces such as walls, mirrors, wall tiles and windows, and even some clothes.

When the moist air is warm it rises and often ends up on ceilings and in upstairs rooms. It’s then that mould starts forming.

If mould starts:
  • Wipe the mould off immediately with water. Do not use washing up liquid.
  • Apply a mild bleach solution to the wall or use a recommended product available from a DIY store.
Trying to stop condensation:
  • Condensation can start in any home. You can do things to stop it happening;
  • Close kitchen and bathroom doors to stop steam going into other colder rooms;
  • Open kitchen and bathroom windows when cooking or washing to let the steam out, or use an extractor fan if you have one put in;
  • Open some windows in all the rooms in your home for a while each day, this will allow for a change of air;
  • Wipe down surfaces where moisture settles to stop mould forming;
  • If you use a tumble drier, vent it directly to the outside;
  • Use window trickle vents where these are provided;
  • Do not block, take away or cover air vents;
  • Do not switch off automatic kitchen or bathroom extractor fans;
  • Do not use bottled gas or paraffin heaters – these produce a lot of moisture and your tenancy agreement says that you are not allowed to use these;
  • Do not use your cooker to heat your home.
How to produce less moisture:
  • Dry clothes outdoors whenever possible, otherwise use well ventilated rooms;
  • Cover pans when cooking;
  • Vent any tumble driers to the outside;
  • Keep your house warm;
  • Take steps to stop heat loss in your home;
  • Keep low background heat.

Smoke Detectors

Your smoke detector has been designed to be as maintenance free as possible. To keep your detector in good working order you must:

  • Test the detector weekly (see section below “How to Tell if the Detector is Working Properly”).
  • ELECTRICAL SHOCK HAZARD: Turn off mains power at the fuse box or circuit breaker powering the detector before following these cleaning instructions:
  • Vacuum the detector at least once a year, using the soft brush attachment to your vacuum cleaner;
  • Clean the detector’s cover when it gets dirty. Hand wash the cover with a cloth lightly dampened with clean water. Dry it with a lint-free cloth. Be sure not to get any water on the detector components;
  • Test detector after restoring power.

Trip switch

If your lights or power go off, it means your trip switches are working properly. You can find out what caused the problem and sort it out quite easily.

Modern electric circuits are fitted with circuit breakers called trip switches. If there’s a problem with your electrics, a switch is tripped and the circuit is broken.

All of the fuses or trip switches are found in the consumer unit or fuse box. Some consumer units have buttons rather than switches.

A trip switch or button usually operates because:

  • There are too many appliances on a circuit and it’s overloaded;
  • An appliance is faulty or hasn’t been used properly, for example a kettle has been over-filled or a toaster not cleaned;
  • Water has leaked into a circuit;
  • A light bulb has blown;
  • There’s a problem with your immersion heater;
  • Always have a torch handy in case you have a power cut;
  • If there’s a problem with one of your electrical appliances, leave it unplugged and get a qualified electrician or service engineer to check it.
  • If there’s a problem with your wall or ceiling light, keep it switched off (put some tape over the switch) and let us know straight away.

Make sure your hands are dry when you touch electrical fittings

To reset a trip:

This advice is only for modern consumer units.

  • Open the cover on the consumer unit so that you can get to the trip switches/buttons.
  • Check which switches/buttons have tripped to the OFF position and which rooms (circuits) have problems.
  • Put these switches/buttons back to the ON position.
  • If the trip goes again, it’s probably being caused by a problem with one of your appliances or lights. You need to find out which circuit it is and which appliance on that circuit is causing the problem.

Check all the rooms and check which set of lights or sockets is not working.

  • Unplug all appliances on that problem circuit and switch off the immersion heater.
  • Switch the ‘tripped’ switch to the ON position (press in if it’s a button).
  • Plug in the appliances or switch on each light one at a time until the trip goes again. Don’t use adaptors or multi plug extensions when testing appliances.

Kitchen and Bathroom Sinks

Kitchen & Bathroom Sinks

Unblocking a sink or bath waste is your responsibility.

Never pour fats down the kitchen sink as these go solid when they cool and block the pipes and drains. Always let the fat cool down and once it’s solid put it in a container or a plastic bag and put it in the bin.

There are many products available from supermarkets and DIY stores that you pour down the plughole to clear blockages. You can help prevent your sink, bath or shower from blocking by buying strainers that fit over the sink hole to catch any hair or food particles.

Frost Precautions

  • The house should not be left entirely without heating for more than a day or two in very cold weather. If the house is to be left for any length of time and the heating turned off, it is safest to drain off the hot water and cold water systems completely. This means turning off the main supply stopcock on the cold riser to the cold water storage tanks. Hose pipes should be fitted to draincocks and the system drained down. All taps should be turned on until they run dry, then turned off again. Flush the WC.
  • Before turning on the heating, you must turn on the main supply stopcocks and the stopcocks of the downpipes from cold and hot water storage tanks. Turn on taps until the water flows freely again.
  • Keep all pipes and tanks in the roof space, outhouses and external WC’s well insulated to prevent freezing up and bursts pipes. If you have controllable gas/oil/electric heating, it is possible to avoid this inconvenience by adjusting the timer to bring the heating on for an hour or so twice a day at a reduced level. This will normally keep the dwelling free from freezing.

Leaking, Burst or Frozen Pipes

  • If pipes leak, place a dish or bowl underneath the leak. Pull back any carpets and lay down newspapers or towels to absorb any dampness.
  • If pipes burst, turn off the water at the main stop cock, and any gate valves from the water tank, and switch off any water heaters. Open all taps to drain water from the system. Some items of equipment may have their own isolation valve (either a gate valve, or a service valve). If not, you may be able to isolate the fault by just turning off a gate valve on a pipe coming out of the cold water tank. This will leave you with some services, even though it might only be cold water at the kitchen tap. You could then temporarily flush toilets using a bucket of cold water.
  • If electric fittings get wet DO NOT TOUCH and turn off electricity at the meter.
  • If the ceilings bulges, prevent the ceiling from falling down by placing a bucket under the bulge and pierce a small hole to let the water through.
  • If pipes freeze turn off the water at the main stop tap and open the cold taps. It is best to leave the pipes frozen but you may try to thaw the pipe using a hot water bottle.

Fuses

Check your fuse box if you lose power to all of the sockets or lights in a room or on one floor of a house. Modern fuse boxes simply need you to flick a switch or press a button. The fuse box is normally located near to a front door, in a cupboard or perhaps under the stairs. Find out where yours is before you have a problem.

Remember a blown fuse indicates a problem somewhere else, possibly a faulty socket or light fitting. If you think electrics may have been affected by water, give them time to dry out before resetting a fuse switch. Fuses should be marked to indicate which circuit they manage, e.g. lights, sockets etc. If a fuse cannot be reset, this information is useful to the electrician in identifying where the problem will be in the property.

Switches and Sockets

Some fittings also have a fused switch or fuse in the circuit so that they can be isolated (this commonly applies to immersion heaters and the like). If something doesn’t work and it has a fuse switch, check the fuse first before reporting a problem.

Remember Electricity CAN KILL – repairs should be carried out by a qualified electrician. ALWAYS turn off power at the fuse box before doing any electrical repairs yourself. If in any doubt, call us.

Electrical safety in your home

About 70 deaths and 350,000 injuries in UK homes are caused by faulty electrics and electrical equipment every year. Over half of all accidental house fires are caused by electricity.

As your landlord, we are required by law to ensure your home’s electrical installation and wiring are safe when you move in and that they are maintained in a safe condition throughout your tenancy.

We test and inspect all the homes we manage (and any communal areas) at least once every five years and test and inspect properties before re-letting them to new tenants.

Reporting a problem

You must inform us of any electrical problems as soon as they occur and we will arrange for an electrician to come to your home.

Never carry out electrical repairs yourself.

How to keep you and your home safe

  • Make sure you know where your fuse box is, so you can turn the mains switch off in an emergency;
  • Never overload sockets or plug adaptors into other adaptors;
  • Maintain any electrical items you bring into your home;
  • Ensure plugs and sockets are not visibly damaged and replace if necessary;
  • Check visible leads and cables are in good condition and replace if necessary;
  • Check light fittings are not visibly damaged and in good condition; contact us if you think they need repairing or replacing;
  • Always use an RCD (residual current device) on outdoor electrical equipment (this instantly turns off the power if there is a fault and can be found in any DIY store);
  • Never store combustible materials near the fuse box or the electricity meter;
  • Never store anything on top of a microwave;
  • Never run cables under carpets or rugs;
  • Never take mains-powered electrical items into the bathroom;
  • Always switch off electrical items when you are not using them.

Visit Electrical Safety First for more help and advice, which includes an online socket calculator to check your sockets are safe and a Visual Checks App to help you ensure your home is electrically safe.

How to tell if the Smoke Detector is working properly

When the indicator light flashes about every 40 seconds, the detector is receiving power from the battery or electrical current. Test the detector weekly by pushing firmly on the test button until the horn sounds. This should take 20 seconds. If the alarm horn makes a continuous loud sound, the detector is working properly. This is the only way to be sure that the detector is working.

Never use an open flame of any kind to test your detector. You may set fire to and damage the detector as well as your home. The built-in test switch will accurately tests all detector functions as required by Underwriters’ Laboratories. It is the only correct way to test.

If you have a battery powered smoke detector, this will be replaced with a wired system whenever it becomes necessary to carry out an electrical check to your home.

Improving your home

If you want to carry out changes to your home please check with our office as to whether it is something you will need permission for. You do not usually need permission for decorating, putting carpets down or putting up pictures or mirrors. Any changes to the fixtures you will need to ask for permission first. If you are in any doubt, call the office.

Wall Fixings

Most modern houses have walls of lightweight materials which may require special fixings to secure heavy pictures, mirrors, bathroom cabinets etc. Steel pin picture hangers can be used for lightweight articles.

This is a list of some wall constructions and the fitting to use:

  • Blockwork (breeze block): plastic or fibre wall plugs and screws;
  • Paramount Partitioning (hollow plasterboard): “rawl plugs”, spring toggles, rawl and/or similar butterfly bolts;
  • Plasterboard on blockwork: “rawl plug”, spring toggles, rawl anchors or similar, butterfly bolts, but heavy articles should be fixed direct through the partitioning into blockwork using plaster or fibre wall plugs and larger screws;
  • Plasterboard on timber supports: articles should be fixed directly through plasterboard into timber supports with timber screws/nails, or as for “Paramount” into the plasterboard.

Central Heating

Please read the operating instructions for your central heating so that you know how to operate this safely. If you do not have instructions, please contact us.

If your central heating does not work, here are a few simple checks you should make before reporting this as a repair:

  • If you have gas central heating this needs both an electrical and gas supply to operate the controls and ignite the boiler, so check that both of your supplies are working;
  • Check that the timer is set correctly. This has to be re-set in Autumn and Spring when the clocks change;
  • Check the thermostat is not set too low. If it is the heating will not come on;
  • Switch your heating to constant. This overrides the timer. If the heating comes on this means that your timer is not set correctly;
  • Check that your radiators are turned on and that if they are fitted with individual thermostats these are set to a high temperature so that they come on.

Legionnaire's disease

Legionella bacteria are found in streams, rivers and lakes. They are also found in soil, compost and mains water and can sometimes enter a home’s water system.

Is Legionella harmful?

Low amounts of Legionella are not harmful. Legionella is only dangerous if conditions are right for the bacteria to grow and if you inhale water droplets from a contaminated water system. The bacteria can cause a number of infections, most of which are not serious. However, Legionnaires’ Disease is fatal in 10% to 12% of cases.

Our responsibilities

We are legally obliged to check for Legionella in some of our buildings, as part of regular checks to ensure water systems are clean and safe to use.

What you can do

Legionella rarely occurs in homes, as most households do not store large volumes of water, however there are a few tips to make sure your water is safe:

Set the correct water temperature

Legionella grows between 20°C and 50°C, so where possible set hot water cylinders at 60°C or above. Regular use of cold water should ensure temperatures stay below 20°C.

De-scale taps and showers

Legionella can grow and multiply on scale or rust. So de-scale taps and showers every three months or when there is an obvious build-up of scale (in hard water areas, you may need to do this more often). Brush scale off with a nylon brush or wipe with diluted bleach (follow the instructions on the bottle) or a de-scaling solution.

Check the water tank, if you have one

Contact us if the lid is missing or damaged.

Use water taps once a week

This will ensure water doesn’t stand in pipes; if you’ve been away for more than a week run all your taps for a few minutes before using the water. Also run the water in the shower – remove the shower head beforehand so water droplets are not created. If you cannot remove it, cover it with a towel while you run the water.

Additional guidance can be found in the Approved Code of Practice and guidance for Legionnaires’ disease on the Health and Safety Executive website.

Download our 2019 Annual Report

Download

Health & Safety Policy

Radcliffe Housing Society has responsibilities as an employer to provide a safe and healthy work place and environment for its employees under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Find out more

Privacy Notice - 2019

Radcliffe Housing Society Ltd is a Registered Social Landlord and is registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office as a Data Controller under the General Data Protection Regulations 2018.

Find out more