CO Advice, Fire Safety
The cost of living crisis will see 8 million households plunged into fuel poverty this year, leaving many Fire & Rescue Services concerned the knock-on effects of high energy bills will cause a rise in unsafe practices behind closed doors.
At FireAngel, we want to shine a light on the Network of Support that is available for those who are struggling or who may be most vulnerable in their homes during the colder weather.
The temperature in our homes should be between 18 and 24 degrees for the environment to feel comfortable, with every degree dropped impacting not only our physical health but also our mental health.
Each year, around 10,000 people die due to living in a cold home. That’s on average 80 people per day. And with energy bills rising significantly, this winter many households are being forced to turn off their heating altogether.
Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis has advised people to fight the chill this winter by “heating the human, not the home” for example through layering up in thermals, wearing fleece-lined clothes and thick socks.
However, in comparison to last year, over 5 million more households are expected to dig out old portable electric or fan heaters as an alternative heat source at home. Although these appliances might help cut down bills, it’s important heaters are kept on a level surface, at a safe distance from fabric and plugged into a mains socket.
When more than 1000 fires each year are also caused by faulty electric blankets, homeowners are encouraged to turn off blankets before they go to bed, unless they have a thermostat control for safe all-night use.
For those who are struggling to cope with a bill over £2,000 higher than last year, there is help available. Alongside warm banks that are being set up across the country in public areas as refuges for people facing unpayable heating bills, the government has put a number of measures in place.
The Energy Bills Support Scheme provides a £400 non-repayable discount to eligible households to help with their energy bills over winter 2022 to 2023.
The unit cost of electricity and gas will reduce so that a typical household in Great Britain will save around £700 this winter, based on what energy prices would have been under the current price cap – reducing bills by roughly a third. The Energy Price Guarantee will be in place from 1 October 2022 until 31 March 2023.
You could get £150 off your electricity bill for winter 2022 to 2023. The money is a one-off discount on your electricity bill, between October 2022 and March 2023. You may be able to get the discount on your gas bill instead if your supplier provides you with both gas and electricity and you’re eligible. Contact your supplier to find out.
The most vulnerable UK households will also continue to receive £1,200 of support provided in instalments over the year, through discounts to Council Tax and Cost of Living payments for those in receipt of certain benefits.
In a bid to cut down fuel bills, recent news reports highlight an alarming number of households turning to dangerous alternative methods for cooking including using candles and disposable BBQ.
Instead, experts advise low energy cooking methods to reduce both bills and fire risk in the kitchen, the most dangerous room in the home. Electric ovens can retain heat up to 10 minutes after being switched off, meaning you can continue to cook food without using the energy.
If possible, purchasing a slow or pressure cooker can save money in the long term by batch cooking large portions to freeze for later. Cooking in the microwave can also save more energy when compared to traditional ovens, especially for items that do not take long to heat.
Although they cast a cosy glow come dark winter nights, candles pose a big fire risk. A lit candle should be placed out of reach of children and pets, away from any flammable materials and blown out before falling asleep.
Over 200 people are admitted to A&E each year with suspected carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. In a survey conducted by campaign group Project SHOUT, over a third (39%) of heating engineers said they saw poorly maintained or badly fitted appliances every week – putting families at greater risk of CO poisoning.
Known as ‘the silent killer’, carbon monoxide is a tasteless, odourless gas produced when fuel doesn’t burn properly and can be fatal. Symptoms of CO poisoning are often misdiagnosed as the common cold or more recently Covid-19.
The only way to detect the gas is with a certified audible CO alarm, placed 1-3 metres away from any fuel burning appliance. This winter, homeowners are encouraged to book a service of any gas appliances with a GAS SAFE registered engineer along with a chimney sweep.
FireAngel recently partnered with Leicestershire Fire & Rescue Service and the Gas Safe Charity to create several safety videos in British Sign Language, Hindi and Bangla, to help raise awareness of the silent killer in our communities. We have also been longstanding partners of Safety Seymour, a bear on a mission to educate children in years 2 and 3 on staying safe from CO, by supplying schools with carbon monoxide alarms. For more information on carbon monoxide, visit the Project SHOUT website.
With growing concerns around the knock-on fire and CO risk attributed to unsafe cooking and heating practices many homeowners may feel forced to turn to this year, at FireAngel we will continue to shine a light on the #NetworkofSupport that is available for those who are struggling.