Students urged to make home safety a priority
11 Sep 2019
With the new academic year fast approaching, students are being urged to put safety first when it comes to choosing their accommodation.
Belfast City Council is issuing the timely reminder for students to highlight the importance of making home safety a priority to ensure their student experience is as safe and enjoyable as possible.
Chair of the People and Communities Committee, Councillor Michael Collins said; “Belfast’s student population continues to grow year on year and the hunt for suitable accommodation is always a highlight. For many young people, this is their first experience living away from home or sharing with friends, so it’s vital that they know what to look for when choosing their new accommodation.
“By just being more aware of the potential risks and following some simple guidelines, students can help to ensure that they minimise the risk to them and others.”
The three key areas for consideration are Fire Safety, Carbon Monoxide poisoning and Crime Prevention. Below are some pointers that students should be thinking about:
- Smoke alarms; one should be installed on each level and test them weekly!
- Counterfeit phone chargers often fail to meet UK safety regulations. Always use the charger supplied with the phone. Never leave your phone to charge overnight as it can potentially cause a fire due to overheating.
- Plan a route to escape if there is a fire and make sure everyone in the house knows the plan. If there’s a fire, don’t tackle it yourself – get out, stay out and call 999.
- Too many electrical appliances plugged into one socket can overload it, which can lead to overheating. Electrical appliances, plugs and cables that are old or poorly wired can also be a real danger. Be aware of the risks posed by unattended hair straighteners!
- Always place candles in a purpose-made candle holder; don't put them near curtains, or other fabrics or furniture, and keep them out of draughts
- Consider keeping a fire blanket in the kitchen, mounted on the wall, where you can get to it easily and quickly. Fire blankets can be used to put out a fire or wrap a person whose clothes are on fire.
Carbon Monoxide poisoning
- Carbon Monoxide is a gas which has no smell or taste. It is highly poisonous and is produced when fuels such as gas, oil, coal and wood don’t fully burn. Most households have appliances which use these fuels, for example boilers, gas fires, central heating systems, water heaters, cookers and open fires. Breathing in carbon monoxide can make you unwell and, if you are exposed to high levels the effects can be fatal.
- Symptoms of carbon monoxide aren’t always obvious, particularly at low-level exposure. The most common symptoms include a tension-type headache; dizziness; nausea and vomiting; tiredness and confusion; stomach pain; and shortness of breath and difficulty breathing.
- Make sure your student accommodation has a working carbon monoxide alarm in rooms where a fuel burning appliance is located and test the alarm regularly. If you have a gas appliance, make sure to ask your landlord for a gas safety certificate to show that it has been serviced annually.
- Making sure your accommodation is secure is also vitally important; use these five questions as a guide when choosing where you’re going to live;
- Is the property secure from the outside
- Does the property have an alarm (which works)?
- Do the front and back doors look solid and secure?
- Are the window lockable and secure?
- Is there adequate outside lighting?
- And remember to protect your valuables! - Computers, cash, electrical goods and jewellery are among the most commonly stolen items in domestic burglaries, so if at all possible use a home safe!
For additional information on Home Safety concerns in your accommodation, you can contact the NI HMO Unit on 02890 170414.