With the current health scenario of the global pandemic, living safely at home has never been more important than as of right now. As we are told to self-isolate and stay at home to protect ourselves and the NHS, there are a number of things that we must look out for to avoid potential danger in the household.
Our homes are places we feel most safe and comfortable, but we become so familiar with our environment that we sometimes overlook aspects of our lifestyle that put us at risk. To ensure that we are all able to continue living safely at home, it’s important that we take simple measures to reduce risks and dangers, particularly for those who are living with a condition such as dementia, in which they may not be able to recognise the danger.
The current pandemic
With the threat of the current pandemic, it’s vitally important to ensure your home is germ and virus free. This will help reduce the transmission of infection amongst yourselves, family members and other loved ones.
By following government guidelines, regularly washing your hands, disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and doing everything you can to avoid coming into contact with the virus – this will drastically reduce the chances of yourself or others becoming ill through Coronavirus.
Fire safety in the home
Fires can start and spread quickly, causing extensive and irreversible damage. So to protect our livelihoods and live safely at home, we must take these simple measures to minimise the risk of any potential danger
- Fit plenty of smoke alarms – at least one on each floor.
- Ensure that your smoke alarms have a British Standard number and a Kitemark (a Kitemark indicates that the product has undergone rigorous safety tests and assessments to ensure safety)
- Test your smoke alarms monthly and keep them free from dust. Investing in a long-life alarm will mean that you won’t have to worry about remembering to change the batteries every year because long-life alarms can last between seven and ten years. Specialist smoke and fire alarms are available if you have hearing problems or vision difficulties.
- Plan a fire escape route and make sure that your exit route is kept clear. If you live in a flat, follow the building’s fire evacuation plan and avoid using lifts.
- Never dry clothes over or near a fire or electric heater
- Never leave the pan unattended when you’re cooking.
- If you smoke, make sure you stub your cigarettes out completely and never leave ashtrays near flammable materials
- If you have an open fire, always use a fireguard and arrange for the chimney to be swept at least once a year by a qualified sweep who’s a member of the National Association of Chimney Sweeps (NACS) or Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps or Association of Professional Independent Chimney Sweeps (APICS).
DID YOU KNOW? Some fire and rescue services offer a Home Fire Risk Check where they can visit your home to help you install smoke alarms, plan escape routes and assess other potential hazards.
What should I do if there’s a fire?
Try not to panic. Use your pre-prepared escape route to exit the building and never attempt to re-enter a burning building.
Always remember the fire service’s advice: get out, stay out and call 999.
Gas safety in the home
Gas appliances in our homes can put us at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if they aren’t properly maintained and monitored. Carbon monoxide is a product of burning fuels and leaks are usually caused by incorrectly installed or poorly maintained household appliances such as boilers, gas fires, central heating, water heaters, cookers and open fires.
Carbon monoxide is a gas that has no smell or taste. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to a cold or flu and can include headaches, dizziness, nausea and breathlessness. To ensure we’re living safely at home, the risk of carbon monoxide leaks can be reduced by:
- A carbon monoxide detector will flash and sound an audible alarm if it detects carbon monoxide. You should install one in every room where there is a gas appliance and test it monthly and the battery should last around 5 years. Ensure that your alarm has a Kitemark and British Standard number.
- Ensuring that appliances are installed and regularly serviced by a reputable engineer who is Gas Safe registered
- Arrange for the chimney to be swept at least once a year by a qualified sweep who’s a member of the National Association of Chimney Sweeps (NACS) or Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps or Association of Professional Independent Chimney Sweeps (APICS)
- Never use ovens or gas ranges to heat your home
- Make sure rooms are well-ventilated and don’t block air vents. If your home is double-glazed or draught-proofed, make sure there’s still enough air circulating for any heaters that are in the room by opening internal doors and putting windows on vent
- Don’t burn charcoal (such as on an indoor barbecue) in an enclosed space
- Ensure that gas fires have a flue fitted
- Ensure that your kitchen has an extractor fan
DID YOU KNOW? Only Gas Safe registered engineers are legally allowed to work on gas appliances. Find one on the Gas Safe website or by calling 0800 408 5500.
What are the signs of a carbon monoxide leak?
- Other people and pets in the property become ill with similar symptoms at the same time
- Symptoms reduce when you’re out of the property
- Seasonal symptoms – for example, if you get headaches more often during the winter when the central heating is used more frequently
With the threat of the current pandemic, it would be quick to assume that it could be a virus that would be making you symptomatic. However, by leaving your home, if you begin to feel better, there could be a problem that is occurring inside the house.
What should I do if I suspect a carbon monoxide leak?
- Stop using all appliances and switch them off
- Ventilate the property by opening doors and windows
- Exit the property calmly
- Call the 24-hour Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999 straight away
- Don’t attempt to re-enter the property
- Seek medical advice
Electrical safety in the home
Electricity helps us all light and heat our homes all over the world and our lives certainly wouldn’t be the same without it! But electricity needs to be properly maintained to protect us from shocks, fires and other electrical hazards in our homes.
Here are some everyday tips to help us live safely with electricity in the home:
- Never overload sockets or extension leads. The overload of electricity can cause fires.
- Bar adapters on a lead are preferable to block adapters. Only ever use one plug per socket for appliances which use a lot of power (such as kitchen appliances).
- Regularly check plugs, sockets and cables for damage and ensure that you seek professional advice from a registered electrician to repair or replace damaged items
- Wiring in the home can suffer wear and tear, so arrange for a registered and qualified electrician to check your household wiring at least once every ten years
- Take particular care when using garden equipment that needs to be plugged in. Make sure any garden equipment is plugged into a socket with RCD (Residual Current Device) protection, which will protect you from an electric shock.
- Electric blankets should be monitored closely for any damage and checked by an expert every 10 years. Never switch it on if it’s damp/wet and never use it with a hot water bottle.
DID YOU KNOW? There are more than 20,000 electrical fires in UK homes each year.
By following these hints and tips for safety around the house, we can all live safely and confidently in the comfort of our own homes. As our homes are to be the place in which we will spend our time over the coming months, it’s important to ensure that our home environment poses no threat to our physical health.
Stay safe at home with Trinity Homecare
At Trinity Homecare, we’re passionate about supporting independence and maintaining our lifestyles in our homes, and it’s what we do on a daily basis. Our care teams are able to support you to seek expert advice, so if you need a helping hand around the home to keep you safe for whatever reason, contact a friendly member of our team today.