the unexpected happens, extreme weather conditions, or just
putting something off might put the safety of your house at
disasters can’t usually be predicted but the risks can
be weighed up and, if you receive warnings of storms or flooding,
you may be able to make a difference in reducing the damage
to your home and/or belongings: Listen to the radio and television
for weather warnings; these are now predicted well in advance
allowing you time to prepare. Telephone the Environment Agency
Flood line service for up to date flood warnings. Put sandbags
in front of external doors and this will reduce the flow of
water into your house; also block up air bricks with wood
or plastic sheeting and this will slow down the water flow.
Move furniture, valuables and electrical equipment to a higher
level if possible and lift rugs and curtains off the ground.
Gas, electricity and water supplies must be turned off at
the mains. Make sure that all temporary buildings like sheds
and greenhouses are securely fixed in place. Damaged or broken
fencing should be repaired. Keep cars and other big items
away from large trees.
After the Storm
your insurance company as soon as possible of any relevant
details. You must not remove or throw anything away until
you are instructed to do so by the insurance company. Damaged
items need to be inspected to assess the amount of damage.
Do not get a contractor in until repairs are approved by your
insurance company. Do not use gas or electrical services until
everything is inspected and cleared by the suppliers.
Subsidence or Heave
is the downward movement of the ground that supports the building
and the word heave is the opposite with the ground moving
upwards. This relates to changes in the amount of water or
moisture in the soil. Some types of soil are more likely to
shrink during periods of hot dry weather. The major causes
for changes in the amount of water in the soil are damaged
drains and roots of trees. Trees could increase the risk of
subsidence damage if they are too close to the property as
they might take large quantities of moisture out of the soil.
But removing mature trees can increase the risk of heave.
Before you plant any trees think about the soil, the variety
of the tree and how big the tree will get.
If you Find Cracks in Your Home
usually suffer from cracks so don't be worried by every crack
that appears. When a series of small cracks suddenly appear
in plasterwork at weak points around doors and windows then
its time to take action, especially after dry weather. Cracks
that indicate ground movement are normally wider than the
thickness of a 10p coin and are usually wider at the top than
at the bottom
Safety from Fire
reasons for the outbreak of a fire are very wide-ranging.
The most common cause at present is cooking; but many fires
can be prevented with some simple safety measures: Don't leave
cooking pots and pans unattended. If you are frying don't
fill the pan more than one-third full with oil. If the pan
overheats turn the heat supply off, place a lid or wet towel
over the pan and leave it to cool down. You must never pour
water onto a chip pan fire as the effects are devastating.
Keep your toasters away from curtains and inflammable objects.
Keep your oven and grill clean to avoid food and fat deposits
from catching fire. If you are cooking outdoors make sure
that the barbecue is located away from sheds, fences, canopies
and gazebos and other combustible materials. Don’t use
fuel accelerants to start a barbecue and make sure the coals
have fully cooled down before disposing of the ashes. Put
fireguards around open fires to reduce the risk of embers
' from the fire falling onto nearby carpets. Keep portable
heaters away from furniture and other flammable materials.
Do not overload electric sockets and as a general rule one
socket equals one plug. Don’t leave electrical appliances
switched on or in stand-by mode when not in use and presents
an unnecessary risk should a fault in the electricity supply
occur. Don’t leave candles unattended and always put
them out before leaving the property or going to bed. Always
place candles in a secure holder on a non-combustible surface.
Don’t put candles on top of televisions, nor near combustible
items such as greeting cards, curtains, bedding and fabric.
Have a smoke alarm installed and also a carbon monoxide detector.
Some prefer to have a fire extinguisher and/or a fire blanket.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors and Smoke Alarms
and deaths from fire in the home are reduced considerably
when people have early warning of a fire. These are widely
available from supermarkets and DIY stores, smoke alarms alert
you in case of fire and carbon monoxide alarms provide early
warning of increased levels of gases. These units can be wired
into the mains within the home or rely on a battery for their
source of power. Batteries offer a simple, cost effective
solution. If you use a battery powered unit it is recommended
batteries are checked weekly using the test button fitted
but they need to be changed at least every year. Smoke detectors
should be located at ceiling level within central areas such
as stairwells, halls and landings. It is recommended that
one detector is fitted on every floor of the building for.
Areas such as lounges, kitchens and bathrooms should be avoided
due to increased rates of false alarms. Carbon monoxide detectors
detect a build up of dangerous gases and these should be located
near to central heating boilers, open fires or in the kitchen.
Fire Blankets and Fire Extinguishers
are now available to the average consumer within DIY stores
at very reasonable cost. A, B and C type fire extinguishers
are the most appropriate type to use within the home considering
the various types of fire that you may encounter.
A fire type - Wood, paper, textiles, other carbonaceous
materials. Extinguisher recommended - Water
A & B fire type - As above with petrol, oil, fats and
paints etc. Extinguisher recommended - AFFF [Aqueous Film
A,B & C fire type - As both above with electrical hazards.
Extinguisher recommended - ABC dry powder
C fire type - Petrol, oil, fats, paints and electrical hazards.
Extinguisher recommended - Co2
fire extinguishers and blankets should be placed in
accessible locations and they should be wall mounted.
You should get them serviced on an annual basis by an
appropriate service provider, like a member of FETA
(Fire Extinguisher Trades Association). Only use extinguishers
on minor fires. In any case, always call the Fire Brigade
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