Safety at home

safety at home 02

Our aim is to provide and maintain healthy, safe and warm homes for residents. The safety of our residents is our highest priority.

We have several stringent measures in place to keep you safe in your home. This page covers information on our approach and provides advice on ways you can reduce risk and hazards in your home.

Fire safety

  • You’ll find advice on fire safety in this important leaflet.
  • We conduct regular fire risk assessments on our 677 multi-occupancy blocks

    The safety of our residents is our highest priority, and we have a number of stringent measures in place to keep you safe in your home.

    We conduct regular fire risk assessments on our 677 multi-occupancy blocks, and where necessary install fire alarm systems to British Standard.

    Our fire safety partnership with Derbyshire Fire and Rescue makes sure that our fire safety procedures across all our homes meet the highest standards.

    In addition our preventative measures include:

    • Gas safety checks on all properties undertaken annually
    • Fire risk assessment
    • Emergency light servicing in schemes (6-monthly)
    • Electric safety tests on communal areas through an ongoing programme
    • Regular checks in communal areas within schemes
    • Sprinkler systems in designated properties/sheltered schemes and for vulnerable residents where appropriate
    • Fire safety qualified staff
  • Smoke alarms. Did you know?

    You are four times more likely to die in a fire if you do not have a smoke alarm that works.

    • Around half of home fires are caused by cooking accidents.
    • Two fires a day are started by candles.
    • Every six days someone dies from a fire caused by a cigarette.
    • About two fires a day are started by heaters.
    • Faulty electrics (appliances, wiring, and overloaded sockets) cause around 6,000 fires in the home across the country every year.

    Keeping yourself safe

    • The easiest way to protect your home and family is with a working smoke alarm. It could save your life.
    • Check your electrical appliances to make sure there is no evidence of faults or loose or exposed wires.
    • Do not overload electrical sockets.
    • Avoid running appliances like washing machines or dryers at night or when no-one is about. Clean lint from tumble dryers.
    • Do not leave candles unattended, and keep soft furnishings away from anything that generates heat, including light bulbs.
    • Take care in the kitchen. Do not leave cooking unattended, and keep electrical appliances and leads away from water.
    • If you smoke, make sure you stub out cigarettes completely.
    • Keep doors closed at night.

  • Communal areas

    We have adopted a zero tolerance approach to any actions which may put you or your neighbours in danger.

    If you live in a scheme or a block with communal areas, including stairs

    It is essential that they are kept clear at all times.
    If a fire were to break out, any obstruction may block your escape route and prevent the Fire Service from getting in to put out the fire.

    Communal spaces containing flammable items add fuel to a fire.

    Even a small bag of rubbish can create enough smoke to fill a stairway. Sometimes these items can become the target of an arson attack.

    Non-flammable items become a barrier to you getting out of the building or allowing others to get in to help. In a smoke filled environment, your vision becomes severely impeded and you may need to feel your way out. Stored items add time to you getting out safely.

    For these reasons we do not allow the storage of any items in communal areas, including bikes, buggies and mobility scooters.

    If one of your neighbours regularly leaves items in a communal area and you would like us to speak to them, please let us know.

    Items left in communal areas will be removed and placed in storage or disposed of.

    Do not prop open fire doors – they are there to stop the spread of a fire. If you notice any damage or faults to a fire door or self-closing door fixings, please let us know immediately.

    Exits must be kept clear at all times.

  • Escape plans

    Know the fire safety arrangements for your block. If you are unsure of the evacuation procedures for your building, please ask us.

    The best exit is usually the nearest one but have a back-up plan in case it is blocked. You could include any ground floor windows in your plan.

    Make sure everyone knows the escape plan!

    Smoke makes it almost impossible to see when you are trying to escape, so plan how you would escape if a fire did break out, and then practice it with your family.

Gas safety, annual boiler checks and carbon monoxide

  • Heating devices which are not allowed

    We do not allow the use or storage of the following heating devices in our homes:

    • paraffin heaters
    • mobile gas heaters
    • gas cylinders
    • containers of petrol or paraffin
  • If you smell gas or suspect a gas leak

    Our Gas Safe registered engineers will inspect your gas appliances every year to ensure they are in safe working order.

    This should avoid any problems.

    If you smell gas or suspect a gas leak

    • Call the National Gas Emergency Service immediately on 0800 111 999.
    • Open all doors and windows
    • Turn off the gas supply (usually next to your gas meter unless in a cellar or basement)
    • Avoid the use of any naked flames, mobile phones or electrical switches
  • Carbon monoxide

    Around 50 people in the UK die each year due to accidental carbon monoxide poisoning caused by defective gas appliances. It is therefore vital that you allow us access to carry out the annual safety inspection.

    Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless, tasteless and non-irritating toxic gas. In the early stages of the poisoning, symptoms are similar to other common ailments so it can go undetected until it is too late.

    The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are:

    • headaches or dizziness
    • breathlessness
    • nausea
    • loss of consciousness
    • chest pains
    • erratic behaviour
    • visual problems

    If you are experiencing any of these symptoms having been exposed to carbon monoxide, please seek urgent medical advice from your GP or an A&E department or call NHS Direct on 111.

    Signs of a possible carbon monoxide leak, include:

    • Floppy yellow or orange flame on your gas hob, rather than crisp blue
    • Dark, sooty staining on or around gas appliances
    • Pilot lights that frequently blow out
    • Increased condensation inside windows

Protecting your home against legionella

  • What is legionella?

    Legionella is a bacteria which grows in water systems and can cause a form of pneumonia called Legionnaires' disease.

    Low amounts of legionella are not harmful and it only becomes dangerous if conditions are right for the bacteria to grow and if you inhale water droplets from a contaminated water system. 

    Health and Safety legislation requires us, as your landlord, to check water systems, including water tanks and water heaters, in your home for legionella bacteria. This assessment is always done before a new owner or resident moves in.

  • Protecting your home against legionella

    We are committed to protecting the welfare of our tenants and employees, the following guidance will help you prevent Legionella occurring in your home.

    When you first move into your home

    Run the bath and hand basin taps continuously for at least five minutes. This will flush through any bacteria.

    If your shower has not been used for a week or more

    Run water from both hot and cold supplies through the shower hose and showerhead for two minutes. To ensure no spray escapes from the showerhead, run it through a bucket of water or full bath.

    If your shower has not been used for two weeks or more

    Disinfect the showerhead. The showerhead should be removed and the shower run for two minutes. The showerhead should be disinfected before being re-fitted by immersing for at least an hour in any solution designed for cleaning baby feeding bottles (e.g. Milton). Showerheads should be regularly disinfected about four times a year.

    Raise the temperature to 60°C or higher

    Temperatures above 60°C will kill Legionella bacteria so make sure that the temperature of the hot water in your boiler/cylinder is set at a minimum of 60°C. Beware of burns and scalding and take extra care if you have children. Legionella can survive in low temperatures, but thrive at temperatures between 20°C and 45°C.

    If your property has been empty for a while (e.g. after a holiday)

    Flush the whole water system for two minutes or more. First flush your toilet, then let the kitchen taps and the hand basin taps run for two minutes or more to let both hot and cold water pass through. Next, flush the shower through as described above. Finally, let any other taps run for two minutes.

What to do if you find asbestos in your home

  • What is asbestos?

    Asbestos is a strong fibrous rock, which can resist heat and chemicals and was commonly used in building materials to provide insulation or a fire barrier. Asbestos was used between the 1950s and 1980s, so many properties built during this period are likely to contain some asbestos.

    From the early 1980s asbestos stopped being used in the construction of properties but was not finally banned until the late 1990s.

    It is not easy to tell if a product contains asbestos. The difference can often only be seen under a microscope at a specialist laboratory.

    If you live in a property that was built before 2000, asbestos may have been used in the construction of you building or during alterations. This guidance provides information on asbestos in the home.

    In these cases, it is important to take extra precautions when doing work on your home.

  • When is asbestos a problem?

    A material that contains asbestos is only dangerous if it is damaged and the asbestos fibres are released into the air and then inhaled. This can happen during some maintenance or DIY activities like drilling, cutting, and, most of all, sanding.

    If you are planning any DIY that involves these kinds of activities, you must get approval from your housing officer first. They can also help you get advice on asbestos.

    When we breathe, our bodies provide some protection by removing different fibres and particles. Sometimes if asbestos fibres cannot be removed, they may become lodged deep in the lungs. This can eventually lead to asbestos-related diseases. There is usually a very long delay between having contact with asbestos fibres and illness; often between 15 and 60 years and the risk is greater if you are exposed more frequently. Trades people like carpenters and electricians, who are exposed to high levels over a long period of time, are among those who typically go on to develop asbestos-related illnesses

    Places you might find asbestos in the home:

    • Eaves and fascia boards
    • Guttering
    • Down pipes (drains)
    • Roof sheets, garage and shed roofs
    • Roof tiles and exterior cladding
    • Textured decorative ceiling and wall coatings (Artex)
    • Floor and ceiling tiles
    • Panels on fire doors and infill panels near windows, doors, etc.
    • Panels behind radiators and heaters
    • Interior boiler fabric, boiler flue and panels around the boiler
    • Behind storage heaters and other equipment like fuse boxes
    • Bath panels and cisterns
    • Pads fixed to the underside of sinks
    • Water tanks and pipe laggings
  • Should I be worried?

    A material that contains asbestos is only dangerous if it is damaged and the asbestos fibres are released into the air and then inhaled. This can happen during some maintenance or DIY activities like drilling, cutting, and, most of all, sanding.

    If you are a tenant and planning any DIY that involves these kinds of activities, you will need to get approval from your Housing Officer first.

  • What do I need to do now?

    Check if your house was built before 2000. If so, it may contain asbestos. Contact your Housing Officer to ask them for advice on asbestos before you do any DIY. Your Housing Officer will advise you on what to do. This could involve emh sending specialists out to remove the asbestos. Once your Housing Officer has said it is OK, you will be able to make improvements to your home safely.

  • How we manage asbestos in our properties

    The law says that we must survey the common parts of buildings we own for asbestos but not in homes themselves, unless we are carrying out work. We also survey empty properties we own.

    We have a register of where asbestos has been found, removed or is presumed to be present. This information is checked by our contractors so they take precautions to keep everyone safe when carrying out work. Our employees and our contractors have asbestos awareness training appropriate to their job, and contractors are trained to stop work immediately if they discover material which they think might contain asbestos.

    If this is the case, we will carry out tests to find out if asbestos is present. If we need to do work that might damage or disturb asbestos we will remove the material, using qualified and licensed contractors.

    Where we are doing major work which involves asbestos, we will provide you with information on how it will be removed and what precautions will be taken to prevent the release of any asbestos fibres.

    We are committed to ensuring that materials containing asbestos are kept in good condition and removed when necessary.

    Current advice from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says that if materials containing asbestos are in good condition and unlikely to be disturbed, then leaving them alone presents the least risk to health. This is because removal can lead to higher levels of fibres in the air.

    We check the condition of all asbestos materials from time to time to make sure they have not become damaged or started to deteriorate.

    If you carry out any work or permit others to carry out work without prior written approval, you will be liable for any costs of dealing with any asbestos incidents.

  • What can I do to prevent the release of asbestos fibres?

    If you are planning any home improvements and think you may have asbestos in your home, always talk to us first. Even if there is asbestos in your home, it will not cause any problem unless it becomes disturbed or is damaged.

    If you suspect that materials containing asbestos have been damaged, speak to your Housing Officer. We will check if we already hold information about the material or can arrange a survey to find out if asbestos is present. If asbestos is found, we will give you details of what will be done.

    We will provide information to all our customers. However, the sampling of material is a service we only consider for tenants. Remember, asbestos is not dangerous so long as it is in good condition. However, where this is not the case, we will deal with it in a safe and appropriate way.

    Please remember: You must get authorisation from your Housing Officer if you want to carry out any works or redecoration at your property.

  • Do’s and don’ts
    • Don’t drill, sand, saw or otherwise disturb any material which may contain asbestos.
    • Don’t carry out DIY work on any part of your home which you think may contain asbestos.
    • Do soak wallpaper before removing it and, if possible, use a steam stripper before gently peeling away the paper before decorating.
    • Don’t try to remove any textured coatings (like Artex) from ceilings.
    • Do wash areas of flaking paint before repainting.
    • Don’t try to remove old floor tiles or linoleum. Please leave them in place and lay new floor coverings over them.
    • Do remember that asbestos can be hazardous to health if handled incorrectly.
  • Have you got any concerns about asbestos?

    If you have any concerns about asbestos please call us on 0300 123 6000.

Fire safety at Christmas

  • Fire safety at Christmas

    Christmas is a special time for celebration and should not end in tragedy because of the extra hazards that are present at this time of year.

    The Fire Service offers lots of advice on how to stay safe in the festive season.

Cold weather advice

  • Cold weather advice

    Caution: Snow and ice

    During the winter months please take extra care when you go outside. You put yourself at risk of slipping and falling when there is snow and ice on the ground. Before going out ask yourself is your journey necessary or can it wait until conditions have improved?

    Where weather conditions allow, we will do all we can to grit communal areas, but please be aware that the ground underfoot may still be slippery even when it has been treated.

    Where grit bins have been made available for residents' use, these will be topped up periodically. If supplies are getting low please let us know.

    For more information please contact Customer Services on 0300 123 6000.

    Is ice and snow on the way?
    The Met Office website has up-to-date severe weather warnings.

    Staying warm and well in extremely cold weather

    Keep your family and those around you warm and well during spells of extremely cold weather.

    Follow these tips

    • Draw your curtains at dusk and keep your doors closed to block out draughts
    • Have regular hot drinks and eat at least one hot meal a day if possible - eating regularly helps keep energy levels up during winter
    • Wear several light layers of warm clothes (rather than one chunky layer)
    • Keep as active in your home as possible
    • Wrap up warm and wear shoes with a good grip if you need to go outside on cold days
    • If you have reduced mobility, are 65 or over, or have a health condition such as heart or lung disease, you should heat your home to at least 18C and make sure you wear enough clothes to stay warm - it is a good idea to keep your bedroom at this temperature all night
    • If you are under 65 and healthy, you can safely have your house cooler than 18C if you are comfortable

    You can find more tips on staying warm and well on the NHS website.