At Merthyr Valleys Homes (MVH), we want our tenants to be as safe as possible and help keep your families out of harm’s way. In order to do this, we ask that you read the following safety guides:
Fires not only damage the property but also personal belongings – some things aren’t replaceable, such as photographs or a beloved pet.
MVH and the Fire Brigade are working together to target parts of the borough which are at a higher risk, such as blocks of flats and locations where fires have occurred previously and caused damage. If they visit your home, take this opportunity to have a chat about fire safety and how to keep yourself and your family safe.
Did you know:
- People living in rented or shared accommodation are seven times more likely to have a house fire than owners/occupiers
- Not having a working smoke alarm doubles your risk of being killed should a fire occur in your home
- Candles cause five times as many fires per day than other causes of domestic fires
View our Fire Safety Reports HERE
Fire alarms are essential to fire safety, therefore the government recommends that at least one fire alarm and carbon monoxide alarm should be installed on every storey of your home.
A smoke alarm is the cheapest way to save a life – so don’t remove any which are fitted in your home. If any are broken or missing, please call MVH on 0800 085 7843.
FIRE SAFETY IN THE HOME
With its electric-powered appliances, stove, oven and flammable cooking oil, the kitchen is one of the most fire-hazardous places in your home.
With most house fires originating in the kitchen, here are some tips to make your kitchen safer:
- Don’t overload electrical outlets with multiple appliances
- Get your cooker checked annually by a qualified gas safe engineer (if it’s gas powered), and that all its connections are safe (if it’s electric)
- Reduce the chance of accidental spillage by turning saucepan handles towards the rear of the cooker
- Store matches where children can’t reach them
- With a deep-fat fryer, DO NOT THROW WATER on to the burning oil – attempt to close the lid or smother the fire with a damp cloth to restrict the oxygen. Consider replacing your cooker top deep fat fryer with an electric one
The Garage/ Shed/ Outhouse
The garage is perhaps the most overlooked place in the house when it comes to fire safety. All those cans of paint, petrol for the lawnmower, the BBQ gas cylinder, bottles of turps and methylated spirits can cause serious damage.
If you want to make your garage safer, carry out the following precautions:
- Make sure you store all flammable liquids in appropriate containers
- If you have a heat source like a water heater in your garage, make sure your flammable items are kept well away from it
- Dispose of paint and oil-soaked rags immediately after use – don’t store them in a pile in the corner
- Disconnect power tools when not in use and never start up petrol powered tools inside the garage
- Consider having a fire extinguisher and smoke alarm in the garage
The living and sleeping areas
To make these areas fire-safe, you should:
- Turn off electric blankets, lights, heaters, TVs etc. at the wall when you’re not using them
- If you’re a smoker, please be fire safe and don’t smoke in bed
- Don’t leave lit candles unattended
- Screen open fires and log burners
- Make sure that you have your chimneys cleaned each year
- Don’t leave embers and ashes smouldering in open fireplaces overnight
- Make sure heaters have at least a metre of clear space on all sides
- Regularly check that all electrical outlets and cords are safe and not loose or exposed
The bathroom, with its combination of water and electricity, poses another fire safety challenge:
- Turn off and unplug all electric appliances when not in use
- Don’t allow towels or clothes to hang near heaters
Preventing fires in other areas
Wedging open fire doors and keeping mats and other belongings in communal areas can cause fires, promote fire spread, create trip hazards and put others at risk, so please keep these areas clear.
As a landlord, MVH are responsible for making sure the gas appliances we own are working safely and efficiently with our annual gas appliance check and service.
This is how the process works:
- We’ll check the gas boiler and any other appliances we own every year
- We’ll service any existing fires connected to our chimney system
- If it has any issues/faults that may lead to the appliance not operating correctly then it will be isolated and made safe by the engineer
- The remedial work will then be down to you
- We’ll not check gas appliances we don’t own, such as your cooker
- If you have a new gas cooker or other gas appliances, then you should arrange to have them checked and serviced every year
- All checks should be done by a competent person who is “Gas Safe registered”, a person who is a registered gas engineer and can make sure it’s safe. This is a legal requirement.
If you think there’s a gas leak in your home, act straight away:
- Call the gas emergency number 0800 111 999 immediately and notify Merthyr Valleys Homes
- Turn off your main gas supply, if you know how to
- Don’t use a mobile in your home if you suspect a leak
- Turn off all gas appliances
- Open doors and windows to ventilate the property
- Don’t turn any electrical switches on or off – light switches or doorbells.
- Don’t use matches, naked flames or cigarettes
- Go outside or to a neighbour's house
- Don’t return to the property until advised it’s safe by a component person
CARBON MONOXIDE (CO)
CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTION
Providing the gas appliance is installed, serviced and adjusted correctly, and there’s an adequate supply of fresh air, combustion of the carbon monoxide (CO) will normally be satisfactory.
However, under unfavourable weather conditions, or where an alteration to the building has taken place, this could have an adverse effect on the safety of an appliance. The appliance could break down or the flue duct could become blocked in-between services.
The use of CO alarms provides gas users with added protection, and the early detection of such gases can prevent a gas related incident taking place.
CO alarms shouldn’t be used as a first line of defence against the effects of CO. Regular gas safety checks, maintenance, and correct installation of appliances are very importance.
SYMPTOMS OF CO POISONING
With CO, you can’t see, taste it or smell it, but it’s harmful to both humans and animals, and this is what makes CO poisoning extremely dangerous is its insidious onset:
- It affects mental ability and incapacitates people without them knowing anything is wrong
- Any sudden exertion by an affected person may cause collapse, so that they cannot escape from the contaminated location
- The result is often fatal
The effects of CO poisoning can be very much like flu:
- Severe headaches
- General body weakness
- Victim’s face can also turn red
HEALTH & SAFETY ADVICE
The victim(s) should immediately leave or be removed from the contaminated area to the open air and inhale pure oxygen.
The victim(s) should rest, avoiding any unnecessary excursion (this can be fatal) and seek medical advice.
You must do everything to ensure your own and others’ safety.
LANDLORDS RESPONSIBILITIES AND DUTIES
The GSIUR (Gas Safety Installation and Use Regulations) place duties on landlords in relevant premises in both the private and public sector, to ensure that all gas installation pipe work, gas appliances, and chimney systems owned by them are maintained in a safe condition.
LANDLORDS DUTY OF CARE
Under Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act, their duty of care is to maintain a chimney system serving a gas appliance owned by the tenant.
The landlord's obligation is to ensure that any chimney system that serves a tenant’s own appliance is maintained to effectively remove products of combustion safely.
We have carried out asbestos surveys on 20% of our properties, and additional management surveys are currently being carried out. We’ll continue to do these over the coming years.
If you think you may have asbestos in your house contact us now on either 0800 085 7843 or 01685 727772.
What is Legionnaires’ Disease?
Legionnaires’ disease is a form of pneumonia. Anybody can catch it, however, certain things make it more likely that you’ll experience a more severe infection. These include:
- Being 50 years of age or over – 83% of the confirmed cases in 2013 involved people over 50 years of age
- Smoking, or having smoked heavily in the past.
- Drinking alcohol heavily
- Underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes, kidney disease, or a pre-existing lung condition
- Having a weakened immune system – for example, people with HIV and AIDS or cancer
Legionnaires’ disease is rare in the UK. In 2013, only 284 people were reported to have the infection in England and Wales. Of these cases, 88 people (31%) were exposed to the infection while travelling abroad.
Legionnaires’ disease is treated with a course of antibiotics, and how long you need antibiotic treatment for will depend on how severe the condition is.
Cases of Legionnaires’ disease in England and Wales usually peak between July and September.
HOW DO PEOPLE GET IT?
People usually catch Legionnaires’ disease by breathing in small droplets (such as those produced in shower or tap sprays) of contaminated water:
- The infection isn’t contagious and can’t be spread directly from person to person
- You can’t get Legionnaires’ disease from drinking water
In domestic properties, the risk of Legionnaires’ disease is deemed to be low due to minimal storage and high turnover of water.
REDUCING THE RISK OF LEGIONELLA IN YOUR HOME
Possibly the biggest risk is when you’ve been away from the property for more than a week. Some things you can do include:
- Simply run all the hot and cold taps for a minimum of 2 minutes
- Flush the shower head through with warm water for minimum of 1 minute. To do this, remove from holder before switching on the shower, then hold the shower head down over drain to lessen risk of inhaling sprayed droplets
- Flush the toilet twice to circulate fresh water through the system and empty the cistern
- Shower spray heads should be dismantled and cleaned of limescale and debris on a regular basis (every 3 months is recommended)
- If you have a water storage tank and you notice the lid is missing or damaged, exposing the stored water to contaminants, contact Merthyr Valleys Homes and report this as a repair.
BAD WEATHER ADVICE
Stay informed and keep up to date with the weather forecast on the internet, television, radio, and newspapers. You can check the latest weather reports here on the Met Office website.
Remember to keep warm to minimise the risk of hypothermia. Make sure your heating is at the right temperature, around 18°C in the bedroom and 21°C elsewhere, so you can keep warm and keep your bills as low as possible.
Use room thermostats or other heating controls if you have them to monitor the temperature indoors. Make sure you have sufficient funds on your pre-payment gas and/or electric metre for a few days.
To help keep warm:
- Wear several thin layers of clothes to trap body heat rather than one thick layer
- Wear clothes made from cotton, wool or a fleecy material to maintain body heat
- Keep warm in bed
- Remember to wear a hat if you go outdoors – a lot of body heat is lost from the head
- Eat well and have at least one hot meal each day
- Have hot drinks throughout the day
- Have adequate heating on at home and take measures to reduce draughts and heat loss
Look after yourself and check on older neighbours or relatives to make sure they are safe, warm and well, and layer your clothing and wear shoes with a good grip if you need to go outside to visit them.
Food is a vital source of energy, which helps to keep your body warm. Try to make sure that you have hot meals and drinks regularly throughout the day, and (if you can) keep active in the home. Stock up on tinned and frozen foods to prevent you from needing to go out when it’s icy outside.
AWAY FROM HOME?
Empty buildings are particularly at risk during cold weather. If you’ll be away for a few days, consider turning off your stop tap and draining the system. This means there will be no water in the system to freeze, keeping your heating on low will also help keep your home warm and prevent your pipes from freezing.
Make your Home Safe and Warm
Keep your home warm by using draft excluders and closing curtains at night. Draught-proof around windows and doors – seek energy advice on this. Avoid blocking ventilation points in the home
If you’re without electricity, make sure you have:
- A supply of torches and/or camping lanterns for emergency lighting
- A camping gas cooker or other means of cooking if you rely entirely on electricity
- A battery-powered radio (make sure you have replacement batteries) in order to receive regular local radio information bulletins
If your electricity supply fails:
- Turn off all major appliances, particularly electric fires and cookers until power is restored
- Never open deep freezers until your electricity is fully restored – cover with newspaper and blankets for extra insulation
- If food thaws out don’t refreeze, use it straight away or consult Local Council Environmental Health Services for general advice
- Avoid using candles as this is a fire risk
If You Are Without Heating/Hot Water
Check that your heating is working properly. If you’re without heating or hot water, please contact us on 0800 085 7843 and we’ll arrange for our heating contractor to attend. If we can’t rectify your heating within 24 hours, we’ll supply you with temporary heaters.
In case water supplies fail, fill a few containers with fresh water for drinking purposes, especially for young children and for infant feeds.
PROTECT YOUR PROPERTY
When severe weather is forecasted, stow away garden furniture and remove loose articles from outside the house – these might cause damage if blown around. If severe weather strikes, stay indoors, and close windows and curtains to protect yourself from breaking glass.
STAY SAFE OUTDOORS
If you must go out, where possible, clear and grit/salt your paths for an accessible route. Make sure you dress warmly and wear non-slip shoes.
Also, tell someone where you’re going and let them know when you’ll get back. If you have a mobile phone, keep it charged and with you at all times. If you’re planning a long trip, take any regular medication and a copy of your repeat prescription.
Make sure you have a list of emergency numbers in case you need to call for help.
CLEARING ICE AND SNOW
MVH has a Winter Maintenance/Snow and Gritting procedure available which sets out what we do and don’t do in snow or bad weather. Contact us for a copy of this policy.
If your pipes do freeze, you’ll need to act quickly to reduce the risk of them bursting. You should:
- Turn the water supply off at the stop tap
- Try to defrost the pipes by placing warm towels or a hot water bottle on them, or try using a hairdryer on its lowest setting
- Pipes MUST be thawed slowly
- NEVER use a blowtorch or an exposed flame
- Do NOT attempt to defrost pipes if you don’t feel you can carry out this action safely
If the worst happens and the pipes do burst, you should:
- Turn the water supply off at the stop tap
- Try to stop any escaping water with blankets, buckets or towels
- Contact us to report the issue IMMEDIATELY, call us on 0800 085 7843
NO WATER SUPPLY
If your property has no water supply, please speak to your neighbours before reporting this to us in order to determine if your property is an isolated case or an issue regarding Welsh Water that is affecting your street/area. If the whole street is affected, please report this to Welsh Water: 0800 052 0130.
CHECK YOUR STOP TAP
Know where your stop tap is, both internally and externally, and check that it works. You’ll need to get to it quickly and know how to turn it off should the worst happen. If you’re unfamiliar with the locations, please contact us for advice.
Don’t leave a hosepipe attached to outside taps. If you have an outside tap, turn off the valve (which may be inside) and drain down the tap and pipes. This stops them becoming damaged.
CHECK YOUR GUTTERS
If you can, check the gutters and drains are clear of leaves or debris. This will help to prevent blockages and flooding. This can also stop leaks and damage to your walls and roof.
ELECTRICAL SAFETY AT CHRISTMAS
The information in the links below give information and tips on how to ensure you keep your home safe when using extra electrical lights and decorations over the Christmas period.