Safety and security in your home

The advice on this page can help you to avoid accidents that commonly happen in the home.

  • Call our Customer Service Centre straight away on 0300 7906 555 if you notice an electrical fault. Electrical faults can cause fire or injury. Don’t risk it.
  • Switch off appliances you are not using, unless they are designed to be left on all the time, such as fridges and freezers.
  • Make sure all plugs are wired correctly and that the whole cable, not just the individual wires, are gripped by the clamp in the plug.
  • Check cables and plugs regularly for wear and tear and faulty wiring. Never use frayed or damaged cables and don’t run them across rooms or under carpets/rugs.
  • Throw away or replace damaged cables. Never use tape to mend or join cables.
  • Watch out for hot plugs and sockets, fuses that blow for no reason, flickering lights and scorch marks on sockets or plugs – these are all signs of faulty wiring.
  • Always check the wattage of the appliance before you fit a new fuse. Using the correct fuse will prevent overheating.
  • Don’t overload sockets. Use one plug in each socket, or a bar-type fused adaptor on a lead. Don’t use a block-type adaptor or plug adaptors into other adaptors.
  • Keep electrical leads, plugs and appliances away from water and never touch anything electrical with wet hands.
  • New electrical appliances should have the British or European safety mark on them. If an appliance is second-hand, always have it checked by a qualified electrician before you use it. Always keep appliances clean and in good working order and have them serviced regularly.
  • It’s vital that you remember to register any new electrical item that you purchase. Electrical Safety First offers plenty of advice on how and why to register a product
  • We do not repair your own electrical appliances.

Every 12months we have to make sure that all gas appliances we own in your home are safe. This is something that we have to do by law.

You will be contacted when your gas safety check is due. If a normal weekday appointment is not convenient an evening or on a Saturday appointment could be arranged.

The inspection is vital to your safety. It is free and will take about an hour.

To enable us to carry out the Gas Safety inspection, you will need to have credit on your gas and electric meter. If you are unable to do this please let us know us before your appointment on 0300 7906 555 or email gassection@wmhousing.co.uk

Gas Safety checks are so important that if do not let us carry them out we can get a court injunction. This may lead you to be evicted from your home. Also all legal costs to gain access will be recharged to you. We may also temporarily stop your gas supply if your meter is fitted outside your home.

What does the yearly visit cover?

We will service, repair and ensure the safety of any boiler, fire and other gas appliances we own.

We will check the safety of the whole gas system in your home including appliances that you own. If we find an appliance that you own is unsafe we must by law cut off the gas supply to that appliance and make the system safe. You will be responsible for repairing or replacing any appliance of your own.

Safety tips:

  • ALWAYS use Gas Safe engineers to carry out work on your appliances
  • ALWAYS ask to see the engineer’s Gas Safe identity cards
  • ALWAYS follow the instructions for your gas appliances
  • ALWAYS make sure your gas meter is clear of obstructions
  • ALWAYS be cautious if buying a second hand gas appliance. Don’t scrimp on safety.
  • ALWAYS ensure that LPG appliances and cylinders are installed correctly.
  • NEVER do DIY with gas. Anybody working with gas has to be Gas Safe registered by law.
  • NEVER use a ceiling fan at the same time as using a gas fire.
  • NEVER block air vents or flues.
  • NEVER hang anything from the boiler flue.
  • NEVER use an appliance with a floppy yellow flame. If there are black marks or stains on or around the appliance, or if there is too much condensation in the room it could mean it is unsafe.

If you smell gas:

  • If you smell gas or you are worried about carbon monoxide fumes please call National Grid immediately on 0800 111 999 and our Customer Service Centre on 0300 7906 555.

Do not:

  • Turn any electrical appliances or light switches on or off
  • Use door bells
  • Smoke
  • Use matches or a naked flame

Do:

  • Open doors and windows
  • Turn off all gas appliances and don’t restart them
  • Turn gas supply off at the meter, the on/off lever can be found at the side of your gas meter

Did you know?

  • You are twice as likely to die in a fire if you don’t have a working smoke alarm.
  • Fires started by cigarettes kill more than any other type of fire.
  • Too many electrical appliances plugged into one socket can make it overheat and catch fire.
  • Most fires in the home start in the kitchen.

Smoke alarms

A smoke alarm may save your life but it will only work effectively if you take these simple steps to maintain it.

  • Test the alarm every week by pressing the button until the alarm sounds
  • If your alarm has a back up battery it will make a continuous low pitch bleep when it needs to be replaced. When this happens please call the Customer Service Centre on 0300 7906 555.
  • Keep your alarm free from dust.
  • If you are unable to test your alarm ask us for help and we will explain how to do it, or will test it for you.
  • Never disconnect your smoke alarm or take out the batteries.

In the kitchen

  • Take extra care in the kitchen as cooking accidents account for over half of fires in the home.
  • Never leave a child alone in the kitchen when cooking on the hob.
  • If you have to leave the kitchen whilst cooking take pans off the heat or turn them down to avoid risk.
  • Keep tea towels, cloths and curtains away from the cooker and hob.
  • Avoid cooking with hot oil – it sets alight very easily. Use a deep fat fryer which is thermostatically controlled.
  • If a pan catches fire turn off the heat, if it is safe to do so, then place a damp tea towel over the pan to smother the flames. Never throw water over it, if you cannot control the fire leave the room and shut the door – dial 999.
  • Take care if wearing loose clothing as this can catch fire.

What if there is a fire?

  • In the event of a fire in your own home, if you cannot safely tackle it, you should leave the property quickly (closing the doors if it is safe to do so) then dial 999 and stay out.
  • If there is a fire elsewhere in the building remain inside your home with the front door closed. Dial 999. You will be told by the emergency services if you need to leave the building. If you are required to leave the building you must use the stairs and must not use the lifts

Fire prevention tips

  • Fit smoke alarms on each floor of your home
  • Some doors are specially made to stop fires from spreading into other parts of the building. It is important that they always close behind you. If any fire door does not close or is damaged, you must call the Customer Service Centre 0300 7906 555.
  • Do not prop or wedge open fire doors.
  • Keep all exits from your home clear.
  • Close all doors at night. If you want to keep a child’s bedroom door open, close the doors to the lounge and kitchen
  • Do not hang cloths over or around fires, heaters or cookers.
  • Use a guard in front of an open fire if there are children or elderly about
  • Do not use paraffin or portable gas heaters as they increase the risk of fire.
  • Do not store flammable products like paint in your home
  • Do not leave frying pans and chip pans in use unattended. If your pan does catch fire, turn off the heat source and cover the pan with a damp cloth/blanket. Never use water or a soaking wet cloth – this can make fat spit and cause burns. Leave the cloth over the pan to make sure the fire has been put out
  • Don’t overload electrical sockets.
  • Never leave lit candles unattended and make sure they are in secure holders on a surface that does not burn and are away from flammable materials.
  • Make sure cigarettes/cigars are stubbed out properly and disposed of carefully, and never smoke in bed.
  • Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children.
  • Don’t leave the TV or other electrical appliances on standby. Always switch them off and unplug them when not in use, unless they are designed to be left on (fridges / freezers)
  • If someone’s clothing catches fire, lay the person on the floor, roll them up in a rug or curtain to put out the flames and call an ambulance.
  • If an electrical fire is small and hasn’t spread, you may be able to tackle it yourself, but it is important you follow these 3 simple steps.
    1. Pull the plug out or switch the power off at the fuse box. This may stop the fire immediately
    2. Smother the fire with a fire blanket
    3. Never use water on an electrical fire
  • Remember if in doubt get out and call 999!
  • Parking of mobility scooters and pushchairs in communal halls, stairways and landings is forbidden and creates a fire hazard and may restrict you leaving safely in the event of a fire. Items left in communal areas may be removed as they can delay people escaping a fire and may also fuel a fire. Please discuss any storage issues with your housing officer
  • If you live in an apartment or a maisonette you are dependent on your neighbours, and they rely on you, to make sure you are safe from the risk of fire.
  • Communal areas (staircases, corridors, landings, bin stores and chute rooms) must be kept free from rubbish at all times. Never place large items in the rubbish chute as these may cause a blockage and increase the risk of fire.
  • Doors in communal areas are designed to close automatically and must never be propped open – they are there to prevent fire/smoke spreading. Any defects to these doors should be reported to us promptly.
  • Front doors to maisonettes and apartments, which open onto the enclosed communal areas, must be fire resistant doors which delay the spread of fire. Residents must not change these doors without our written consent and this will only be given where a fire door is to be fitted.
  • Metal gates/grills fitted over individual front doors may delay the Fire Service from getting into your home and put your safety at risk.
  • As your landlord we take fire safety very seriously and make sure that regular safety inspections are carried out to blocks. If we see something that is not fire safe we will take action to resolve the matter.
  • If rubbish is left in communal areas, rather than risk your safety, we will require you to move it or we will remove it ourselves and all the residents of the block will have to share the cost. We will also clear blocked chutes and charge the residents for doing so.
  • Residents share the responsibility for making sure buildings are safe for everyone.
  • Residents should take all necessary precautions to reduce the risk of a fire occurring and if further advice is needed should contact us or the local Fire Service.
  • Residents should immediately report any concerns about safety in their block to us. Any defects to fire doors, rubbish dumping etc. should be reported immediately
  • Residents must not carry out improvements to their home, including replacing doors and removing walls, without first getting written agreement.
  • Fire fighters from your local fire station will carry out a free home fire safety check.
  • The home fire safety check will take about half an hour of your time. Fire fighters will check your home and give you advice in order to keep you safe from fire.
  • Home fire safety checks are FREE – your safety is our concern.
  • To request your FREE home fire safety check: Call freephone helpline 0800 389 5525 or visit www.wmfs.net or www.hwfire.org.uk or contact us on 0300 7906 555.

Reducing the risk of water pipes freezing

  • Keep your home as warm as possible, even when it is unoccupied.
  • Leave internal doors open to allow warm air to circulate.
  • If there are pipes in exposed or draughty areas, insulate them with lagging.
  • Report leaking outside overflows to our Service Centre.
  • Leave the doors to your sink unit open overnight as warmer air will prevent pipes freezing.
  • If you have water pipes or tanks in the roof space, leave the trap door to your roof space slightly open to let warm air in.
  • Run your taps frequently to get water flowing.
  • If you have an outside toilet, turn off the water supply to the toilet to prevent the pipe bursting.

If you have a burst pipe

  • Locate your main stop tap and turn the stop tap off. Your stop tap can usually be found under your kitchen sink.
  • If you cannot stop the flow of water, drain the system by opening all your hot and cold taps. Remember to remove your sink plug.
  • Switch off your electricity supply at the mains if there is a chance that water could come into contact with electrical wiring or fittings.
  • Call our Service Centre immediately on 0300 7906 555 who will arrange for an engineer to visit.

Thawing out your pipes

  • Never thaw out frozen pipes by switching on your immersion heater or central heating boiler.
  • Check for leaking joints or burst pipes.
  • If it is safe use electric fan heaters to warm the room where the pipes are frozen.
  • Apply a hot water bottle, or a thick cloth soaked in hot water, to pipes to help them defrost. Start nearest the tap. If the pipes are frozen in the roof space, only enter the roof space if it is safe to do so.
  • Never use a naked flame to defrost pipes.
  • If your waste pipe is frozen, try putting table salt or hot water down the waste outlet.

Other tips

  • Make sure there are no dripping taps at night. Report any dripping taps and any leaking outside overflows to us.
  • If you have central heating and you go out during the day, leave radiator valves slightly open, or set the room thermostat to about 10 degrees C.
  • If you have solid-fuel central heating, make sure you have enough fuel to keep the heating working.
  • If you are going to be away for more than a week make sure the main stopcock is turned off and the water system is drained down completely by running the taps until no water comes out. Leave a contact number with a neighbour.
  • Never leave your home without making sure that windows and doors are secured and locked.
  • Never leave a key under the doormat, in a door or on a string behind the letterbox. If you want someone else to be able to get into your home while you are out, have a spare key cut for them. This will also help you if you ever lose your own keys or get locked out.
  • Cancel milk and newspaper deliveries if you are going away for a while.
  • Do not leave valuables, handbags, purses or wallets where anyone can see them.
  • Leave a light on if you are going out in the evening or set them on timers to come on and off at certain times.
  • Lock up before you go to bed.
  • Check who the callers are – use a chain when you open the door and ask to see an identification card before you let them in. All our staff and contractors carry an identity card ask to see it, if you are not sure, please call us.
  • Join your local Neighbourhood Watch scheme.
  • Report anything suspicious to the police.
  • We do not keep spare keys to your home, so if you lose your key and the lock has to be forced, we will charge you for any repair work needed.

There has been considerable media attention over recent years to two emerging causes of fire; tumble dryers and lithium-ion batteries.

Tumble dryers

Tumble dryers can cause a fire if they are not kept clean or ventilated properly

There was also a problem with vented and condenser tumble dryers from Whirlpool’s Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda brands manufactured between April 2004 and September 2015.

You can check if your dryer is affected at https://safety.hotpoint.eu/ ,https://safety.indesit.eu/, and https://safety-swan.eu, or call the dedicated free-phone helpline on 0800 151 0905. If your dryer is affected you will need to unplug the machine and do not use it until the problem has been fixed.

Tumble dryer safety:

  • empty the fluff or lint filter before every load.
  • make sure that the dryer is venting properly.
  • always have someone in the home when the tumble dryer is switched on.
  • do not have the tumble dryer running when you are asleep.

Lithium-ion batteries

Lithium-ion batteries are found in phones, e-cigarettes, laptops and other devices.

They have a risk of overheating and igniting if overcharged or damaged in any way.

Lithium-ion battery safety:

  • always make sure you use the correct charger for your device. Cheap replacement chargers may not charge lithium-ion batteries properly and can cause them to overheat.
  • do not leave your devices on charge when you are asleep.
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