Tenant safety: the dangers of carbon monoxide and fire in the home
As the society we live in becomes ever more conscious of safety in the home, there is an increasing requirement for safety equipment to protect against the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and fires, which kill and injure many hundreds of people in UK homes every year. This is particularly true for local authorities and housing associations who, having a duty of care to their tenants, must take all reasonable action to protect them from these dangers.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a highly poisonous gas produced when burning any fossil fuel such as gas, coal, oil, wood …etc. It is odourless and colourless and so is not easily detectable and no one is immune. It can kill quickly in large concentrations or build up slowly over time with the same result. Initial symptoms such as headaches, nausea and general lethargy can also often be mistaken for other illnesses, even by the medical profession. CO can leak from flues and appliances when they are either not operating correctly or when the flues become blocked or damaged.
The first line of defence is to have all heating and cooking appliances regularly (annually) serviced by an approved engineer. This is a mandatory requirement for tenanted accommodation. This reduces the chance of a problem but does not eliminate it as every year there are incidents from problems with appliances or flues which occurred in between service dates.
The awareness of the dangers of fires in the home is more widespread and the fitting of alarm systems to protect against these dangers has been commonplace for many years. The technology of alarm systems has also improved over these years, with both smoke and heat alarms now offering a comprehensive level of protection.
The only way to provide continual protection against these dangers is to install approved carbon monoxide, smoke and heat detection equipment. Alarms give audible and visual warnings and provide a range of other features and benefits depending on the make and model. These can include memory functions, early warnings / low level alarms, digital displays and wireless interconnection options enabling systems of up to 32 units to be wirelessly linked together. Some CO alarms offer an Action Text feature where by a clear warning message is displayed on the unit when in alarm including an appropriate number to call. Some CO alarms also have upgraded ingress protection (IP) ratings enabling them to be used in bathrooms if required.
A new and very useful feature provided by some units is the capability to wirelessly download data recorded by the alarm to a mobile smart device which allows on the spot incident investigation and effortless report generation.
The latest models offer a full 10 year maintenance free guarantee and are supplied with long life sealed batteries which cannot be removed or tampered with by the tenant and are the preferred choice for installations in existing properties. This also enables quick and easy installation by engineers who can simply lock these units to the wall or ceiling to ensure they remain fixed within the property.
When choosing alarms, authorities must ensure units are officially approved & kitemarked to the relevant British and/or European Standards. EN50291:2010 is the standard for CO alarms, EN14604 for smoke alarms and BS5446 for heat alarms. This is particularly important as there is evidence of poorer quality units appearing on the UK market from overseas without the necessary approvals or sometimes with claimed approvals which are not valid.
One of the UK’s leading manufacturers of domestic CO, smoke & heat alarms is Honeywell, based in Poole Dorset. They have over 50 years experience in the design and development of these types of products and an unparalleled level of expertise. Many local authorities and housing associations choose Honeywell and benefit not only from the high quality products and low cost of ownership but also from the extensive back up and support provided by Honeywell throughout the lifetime of the products.
All Honeywell CO, smoke and heat alarms are officially approved and kitemarked to the relevant Standards, ensuring superior levels of performance and reliability - just one of the reasons why Honeywell is referred to as the Professionals Choice for supply of these types of products.