Keeping You Safe At Home

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1. Avoiding Fires In Your Home | 2. What To Do If You Smell Gas

3. Condensation | 4. Keeping Warm | 5. How To Beat Bogus Callers

6. Home Security | 7. Asbestos | 8. Legionnaires' Disease


 Avoiding fires in your home

The last thing you want is a fire in your home. The guidelines below may help you avoid unnecessary and dangerous incidents.

● Ensure your smoke alarms are kept in a good condition and have a working battery throughout the year by testing them regularly;

● Take extra care if you need to leave the kitchen whilst cooking. Take pans off the heat or turn them down to avoid risk;

● Keep tea towels and cloths away from the cooker and hob;

● Don't microwave sponges, dishcloths or anything metallic - such as cutlery or tin. Doing so could cause a fire;

● Keep your oven, hob and grill clean. A build up of fat and grease can easily catch fire;

● Consider swapping your chip pan for an electric deep fat fryer. Thermostatically controlled electrical deep fat fryers that plug into the wall are much safer to use;

● Never fill a chip pan more than one-third full of oil. If the oil starts to smoke, it is too hot. Turn off the heat and leave it to cool down;

● Keep electrical leads, tea towels and cloths away from your cooker;

● Check your toaster is clean and away from curtains and kitchen rolls;

● Make sure candles are secured in a proper holder, away from children or pets and away from materials that may catch fire - like curtains;

● Put candles out when you leave the room, and make sure they are put out completely at night;

● Check that any new electrical appliances you buy are B.E.A.B. approved as a guarantee of safe design. These initials stand for "British Electrical Approvals Board" and appear on a label or swing ticket. You should have second-hand electrical goods checked by an expert;

● Never run wires under a carpet or rug. Not only can they cause fires, they are easy to trip over;

● Have your electric blanket serviced regularly by the makers. Please persuade your elderly relatives and friends to do the same, as electric blankets can cause tragedies if they are not checked. Switch it off when you go to bed unless you have an all-night blanket;

● Never place anything on or against night storage or any other heaters. You should never dry or air laundry on any appliance which has not been designed for that purpose, this includes night storage heaters;

● Never overload electrical points and avoid using multi-way adaptors;

● Switch off and unplug your television before you go to bed;

● Keep the entrance hall to your home, staircase and any communal landings free from all obstructions and combustible material that may catch fire:

● Keep doors closed when not in use, especially at night;

● Never store flammable materials, especially liquids, on the premises; and

● Buy flame-resistant furnishings and fabrics when you can, especially for your family's night clothes.

If you should discover a fire:

● Don’t try and put the fire out;

● Dial 999 and ask for the Fire Brigade, giving your exact address. If you don't have a telephone of your own, ask a neighbour;

● Get your family out of the property as soon as possible;

● If possible, close all doors and windows to prevent the fire spreading;

● Warn your neighbours; and

● Remove your vehicle if it is obstructing emergency vehicles

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service have a list of downloadable fire safety resources on their website here.


What to do if you smell gas

If you smell gas in your home there could be a leak. Take the following steps:

● Put out all cigarettes or naked flames;

● Open doors and windows;

● Avoid turning electrical switches on or off;

● Check that you have not left a gas appliance or pilot light on; and

● Call Transco on 0800 111 999.


Condensation

Condensation is dampness caused by hot or warm wet air (i.e. steam) settling as water on walls and other cold surfaces.

A certain amount of condensation in any home is unavoidable, especially in bathrooms and kitchens. If it spreads around your home it can cause mould which smells, can damage decoration and woodwork and which may even damage your health if not dealt with.

You can reduce condensation by: 

● Keeping your home reasonably warm most of the time;

● Not leaving kettles or saucepans boiling;

● Shutting the kitchen or bathroom door and opening a window whenever you are doing something in those rooms that causes a lot of steam;

● Wiping over steamed up windows before the water runs between the glass and frame or onto the sill;

● Ventilating your home (open all air vents); and

● Not drying clothes on radiators.

● If you get black mould growth around your home it can usually be washed off using hot water and household bleach.


Keeping warm

During winter, it's essential to keep warm. As the weather gets colder, we are all more likely to catch colds or flu; and if your body temperature drops then the risks of a heart attack, stroke or breathing difficulties increase.

This is especially true for older people, if you have a chronic disease or are vulnerable due to a physical disability

These simple steps will help to protect you:

At home

● Wear several thin layers of clothes rather than one thick layer – the warmth from your body will get trapped between the layers.

● Choose clothes made with wool, cotton or fleecy synthetic fibres that are designed to be light and warm.

● In the coldest weather, a good way to keep warm in bed is to wear bed socks and a nightcap or scarf around your head, as well as thermal underwear and a warm nightdress or pyjamas.

Outdoors

● Several thin layers of clothing under your coat will keep you warmer than one thick layer.

● Wear something on your head, otherwise you will get cold very quickly.

● Wear warm, dry, flat, non-slip shoes or boots, especially in frosty weather.

Keep Warm, Eat Well

● Food is fuel; it helps keep you warm. Aim to have at least one hot meal a day and have hot drinks regularly through the day.

● Have a hot drink before bedtime.

● Prepare a thermos flask of a hot drink to have by your bed in case you wake up in the night feeling cold.

Get your home ready for winterThere are a range of things that can be done to help keep your home warmer during the winter:

● Fit draught proofing to help seal gaps around windows and doors.

● Lay insulation in the loft to reduce heat loss.

● Ensure your hot water cylinder and pipes are lagged, including pipes in the loft.  Let us in to check your heating system is working properly and serviced every year.  Make sure you know how to set the heating controls.


How to beat bogus callers

Most people who call at your home will do so for genuine reasons, but someone could turn up unannounced with the intention of tricking their way into your home. These people are known as 'distraction burglars' or 'bogus callers', whose only aim is to get into homes to distract people and steal their money or valuables. You should always be aware when someone you don't know calls at your door.

Bogus callers may be smartly dressed and claim to be from the council, the police, health organisations or gas, water or electricity companies. They can be convincing and persuasive.

They use 'props' like an identity card or wear overalls with a company logo. If you are expecting the caller, remember to check their identification very carefully and if in doubt, don't let them in.

If you are not expecting a caller and are alone, you can ask them to call back when you have someone with you at a later time or date. If they are genuine, they will have no problem in doing this.


What to do when someone official calls at your door

If someone who looks official calls at your door, always do the following:

Stop: Before you answer, stop and think if you are expecting anyone. Check that your back door is closed and locked and take the key out.

Chain: Put the door bar or chain on. Look through the spy hole (if your door has one) or the window to see who it is. Always keep the bar or chain on while you are talking to the person on your doorstep.

Check: Ask for and carefully check their identity card, even if they have a prearranged appointment (all genuine callers will carry one).   Do they look like the person on the card? Close the door while you do this. If you are not expecting them and they have not shown you an identity card, do not let them in until you have checked and double-checked that the caller is genuine.

You can do this in three ways:

1. Look up the phone number in the phone book and check it against the card the caller has given you. Do not be tempted to just ring the number on the card as it may be a fake;

2. Phone directory enquiries. It will help to check whether the company is genuine; or

3. Look at a recent bill to check the phone number. You should also think about keeping a list of useful phone numbers, like gas, electricity and water services, in a handy place. Many now have free phone numbers to help you check the identity of their workers.

If, after these checks, you have any doubts about the caller, especially if they came unannounced, tell them to call back later when someone can be with you. You can also tell them to contact you by letter to arrange a more convenient time.

Only let them in when you are absolutely sure that they are genuine.


Report bogus callers

Bogus callers sometimes work in pairs or even teams. They are often well organised. One will distract the person while the other searches the house for money or other valuables. They can be men, women or children (or often a combination). 

Watch out for anyone who says they are in a hurry. Don't let them pressure or confuse you.

If you think a bogus caller has called at your door, report it to the police immediately – dial 999 and tell them what has happened. Try to give the police a description of the person. While they are on their way, tell a neighbour or Neighbourhood Watch representative just in case they try at other homes in the area. The earlier the police know that bogus callers are working in the area, the quicker they can investigate.


Home Security

Home security is the best way to reduce your chances of being burgled.  A lot of burglaries are opportunist; a burglar may see an open window or other easy point of entry and take their chance. If you follow these tips below then you will have gone some way to making life harder for a burglar.

Basic tips:

● When you are going out and are leaving your house empty, always lock all the doors and close all the windows - even if you are just going out for a short time;

● Window locks, especially on older windows, will help stop people getting in. A burglar is less likely to break in if they have to smash a window;

● If you have deadlocks on your front and back doors you should always use them. They make it harder for a thief to get out again if they have got in through a window. But don't leave the key near the door, or in an obvious place;

● Don't leave spare keys outside, or in a garage or shed, and put car keys or garage keys out of sight in the house;

● You can buy timers for lights and radios if you need to be away from home overnight. They will create the impression that someone is in and therefore a burglar would probably move on past your home; and

● Visible burglar alarms, good lighting, and carefully directed and limited security lighting can act as deterrents. But make sure that lights don't disturb your neighbours, and that alarms turn off after 20 minutes.

● Fitting a 'spy hole' allows you to see who is at the door.

● Having a door chain means you can open the door a little way to talk to them.

● Always ask to see identification and never let anyone into your home unless you are completely sure about who they are.


Asbestos

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was used in the past because it is strong, does not catch fire and has excellent insulation properties. Some people are worried about asbestos but the risk to your health is very low. If asbestos is left undisturbed it has no risk to health.

Where might I come across asbestos in my home?

If there is asbestos in your home, you are most likely to find it in small amounts in textured coatings, such as Artex and textured paint. It may also be found in:

● Eaves, gutters and rainwater fall pipes

● Air bricks and floor tiles

● Boilers and cold water tanks

● Pipe lagging and duct linings

● Fire blankets and fire surrounds

● Garage and shed roofs

● Linings for walls, ceilings and doors

● Insulation panels in some storage heaters

● Bath panels

● Central heating flues

● Loose asbestos packing between floors and in partition wall

What are the health risks?

The likelihood of you coming into contact with materials containing Asbestos in your home is very low. Any asbestos containing material which is undamaged does not pose a health risk. Only when the material is drilled, sawn, scrubbed, broken or sanded does it pose a threat to health as fibres can be released. Asbestos fibres and dust can be dangerous. If inhaled they can cause problems including cancer of the lungs and chest lining. The symptoms of these diseases often do not appear for between 15 to 60 years and at present there is no known cure.

What are Bury Council and Six Town Housing doing about asbestos in Council properties?

We have developed an Asbestos Management Policy which sets out exactly how we intend to identify and manage asbestos. We will survey all properties prior to commencing any work to identify the locations of any materials suspected to contain asbestos. All asbestos containing materials that is in a good condition will stay where it is and its condition will be reviewed from time to time. If the material is damaged, we will take measures to repair, seal or remove it immediately in high-risk situations or as part of a maintenance programme if the risk is low. We will ensure that any such work is undertaken by a specialist licensed contractor, who works to strict safety standards.

What are your responsibilities?

Carrying out any work on asbestos containing material without knowledge, expertise and personal protection can put your health at risk. Changes and alterations to your home are not permitted under the terms of your Tenancy Agreement without prior written approval from Six Town Housing. If you want to carry out any home improvements (in particular where they may disturb an asbestos containing material), you must contact us for permission to ensure proper controls are put in place to reduce exposure to you, your family and the person carrying out the work.

What happens if a repairs contractor finds or suspects asbestos in my home?

We will share information about the location and type of asbestos found in our properties with all repairs contractors so they can take appropriate precautions when carrying out a repair or refurbishment. If a contractor discovers asbestos or suspects that asbestos may be present in the area to be worked on, they will immediately request that one of the trained asbestos surveyors attend to assess the potential risks.

Appropriate steps will be taken to minimise the risks to the contractor, yourself and people living with you. Where possible the Contractor, Tenant Liaison Officer or Project Advisor will also give advise about what you should do next.

What should I do if I think I have a problem with asbestos?

If you think you have asbestos in your home or are worried about any damaged asbestos materials do not try to deal with it yourself - please contact us as soon as possible.


What is Legionnaires' Disease?

Legionnaires’ Disease is an illness similar to pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria.

Some people are at higher risk, including:

• Those aged over 45;

• Smokers and heavy drinkers;

• People suffering from chronic respiratory or kidney disease; and

• Anyone with an immune system that is impaired.

Legionella bacteria are naturally occurring and may contaminate and grow in water systems, including domestic hot and cold water systems. They survive low temperatures and thrive at temperatures between 20 – 45°C when the conditions are right. The bacteria are killed by high temperatures at 60°C or above.

Breeding Grounds Within The Home

Domestic hot and cold water systems can provide an environment where Legionella bacteria can grow.

We at Six Town Housing take our responsibilities to prevent Legionella being present in the hot or cold water systems seriously, however our residents also have an important part to play in taking these simple and practical precautions.

Legionnaires’ disease can be caused by the inhalation of small droplets of contaminated water containing Legionella bacteria. To minimise the risk of Legionnaires’ Disease residents of rented domestic accommodation should follow the below guidelines:

Most importantly, make sure that:

• Hot water in the system is kept hot;

• Cold water is kept cold;

• The water is kept circulated.

In particular, it is important that you:

• Tell us if the boiler or hot water tank are not working properly, particularly if the water is not coming out of the taps at a sufficiently high temperature. It should come out at a temperature of 50°C after it has run for a minimum of one minute

• Do not interfere with the settings on your boiler or hot water system. The hot water should be set so that the water is heated up to at least 60°C.

• Tell us if the cold water is still running warm after you have initially run off any water, which may have accumulated in the pipes. It should not be above 20°C.

• Tell us if there are problems, debris or discolouration in the water.

Where showers are fitted:

• If they are used only occasionally you should flush them through by running them for at least 2 minutes once a week. Keep out of the way whilst this is being done as far as possible.

• Clean the shower head periodically, descale and disinfect it. This should be done at least every six months.

Please contact us if you have any concerns regarding Legionnaires’ disease.