Safety in your home

Safety in your home

When you report a potential gas leak, you will be asked the following questions:
• How long have you been able to smell gas?
• Is the smell from inside or outside the property?
• Where is your gas meter?
• Can you still smell gas when the gas is turned off?
• Is anyone else affected by the smell?

Under the Gas Safety Regulations 1998, Gentoo has a legal responsibility to make sure your gas appliances are safe. If you have a gas meter in your home, whether or not it has a gas appliance connected (e.g. a gas boiler or fire), we will make an appointment on or before the anniversary of the last gas service. If you have any solid fuel appliances we will service these twice a year.

Your Tenancy Agreement clearly states you must allow us in your home to carry out this work. Failure to do so will result in legal action being taken against you. We will write to you to tell you when we will be coming out to carry out these checks. Please make sure you allow us access and keep your appliance(s) turned off while we carry out these checks. Our safety records will contain details of any faults we have found during a safety check and the appropriate action.

Please note: It is an offence to use or allow anyone else to use an appliance you know is unsafe.

We will fit a smoke alarm in your home and will service this on an annual basis. It is your responsibility to check your smoke alarm weekly - never remove batteries. Make sure all exits are clear. You will have been given a copy of the fire safety and evacuation procedures when you signed up for your tenancy, but you also can request a copy by asking your Neighbourhood Coordinator. Fire evacuation procedures will differ if you are connected to the Concierge service. Further information on fire safety can be found in your Sign up Pack.

 

We will test your electrical installation e.g. wiring before you move into your home to make sure it is safe. It is your responsibility to make sure that your own electrical equipment is safe and in good working order. We have a legal responsibility to periodically test the electrical installation in your home to make sure you and your household are safe from electrical hazards. We will notify you when we need to do this inspection. Failure to allow access to your home to carry out electrical testing may result in legal action being taken against you. Please ensure safe use of electrical items in your home at all times, e.g. do not overload extension leads or use electrical equipment near water.

You will be given a copy of the asbestos survey when you sign up for your home. You must check this before doing any DIY improvements and must not tamper with any asbestos material. If you become aware of any damage to any asbestos in your home, you must notify us immediately. The advice from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on the management of asbestos clearly identifies if the asbestos containing material is in good condition and unlikely to be damaged in the normal use of the property, it is often best to leave it where it is. The removal of this material can increase the risk of exposure to asbestos fibers if the material is removed. Gentoo periodically monitor the location of the asbestos in your home to ensure it is in good condition.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a mineral and its fibres are strong and do not burn. Because of this, asbestos was used in a wide range of building materials up to the 1980s to insulate homes and protect against fires.
When materials which contain asbestos are damaged or disturbed, they can release fibres into the air. If you breathe in enough of these fibres, they can stay in your lungs for a long time and cause damage such as lung disease and cancer.

Asbestos is a dangerous material, but if the material which contains asbestos is in good condition and in a position where it will not be disturbed, there are no risks.

You may find asbestos in the following:

  • Cement products, such as roofing, wall cladding and fascia boards. 
  • Insulating boards, such as insulation on heating cupboard doors. 
  • Textured coatings, including Artex on walls and ceilings. 
  • Things which are made of more than one material, including fuse cupboards and fibre gaskets to gas fires. 
  • Vinyl floor coverings including some plastic floor tiles and linoleum. 

Loft and cavity-wall insulation does not contain asbestos.

If we find asbestos in your home or if we think material in your home may contain asbestos, we will inspect the material, take samples, and analyse it. As stated, if the material which contains asbestos is in good
condition and in a position where it will not be disturbed, there are no risks. 

Please get permission from your local housing office before you carry out work which includes drilling a hole, hanging a picture, removing any materials/floor coverings not installed by yourselves, sanding,
scraping or plastering a textured wall or ceiling.

There is a very low risk that Legionella and other bacteria can grow in stored or stagnant water to levels which may cause infection. The bacteria that naturally occurs in water can cause Legionnaires’ disease, which is a serious lung infection that must be treated with a course of antibiotics when contracted. It occurs if the levels of bacteria are allowed to develop in the water system in your home. It becomes more active in stagnant or stored water within the temperature range of 20 to 45°c. Anyone can become infected with Legionnaires’ disease, however some people are at increased risk.

These are:
• Those aged 45 or over
• Those who smoke, or have smoked heavily in the past
• Those who have an alcohol dependency
• Those with an suppressed immune systems

It is very easy to control the risk and prevent the bacteria growing by following some simple steps to ensure the water is not stagnating in the system and stored at the correct temperatures. 

We will carry out assessments of the systems periodically to ensure they are satisfactory, however you have a key part to play in the control of the bacteria in the systems and looking after your own health. If you have a suppressed immune system or are undergoing treatment that may cause this, you need to inform us and we will carry out further checks on the system to confirm the safety for you. As long as you follow the guidance under your responsibilities (below) this will control the risk of bacteria growth in the system.

Your responsibilities:

We advise that you follow these simple steps to keep your home’s water supply clean and healthy.
Each week:
• Run all your taps for three to five minutes
• Run your shower for three to five minutes
• Flush the toilet twice with the lid down to ensure fresh water is circulated through the system and that the cistern is regularly emptied*

*If you have a Clos-o-mat bidet toilet, switch it off at the wall if you intend to be away from the property for more than one week. This is so warm water is not left in the cistern.

You may have already heard about the dangers or carbon monoxide poisoning in homes. But do you know what it is and how to avoid it?

Because it’s difficult to detect, carbon monoxide can kill without warning. You can’t see it and unlike natural or LPG gas, you can’t smell it either. In fact, each year over 50 people die from of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by faulty heating appliances. This poisonous gas can be given off when a solid-fuel appliance has not been properly installed or maintained, or when a throat plate or chimney is blocked.

Throat Plate

If you have a solid fuel appliance you should clean your throat plate every four weeks at the very least, or more often if possible
If you are unable to clean the throat plate on an appliance yourself at least every four weeks, you must arrange for our Maintenance Team to do it for you. Just call 0800 587 7809.

Carbon monoxide is known as the ‘Silent Killer’ and it can be difficult to spot if someone is suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. The symptoms are similar to many common illnesses such as food poisoning, flu or general tiredness.

But here are some signs to look out for:

  • feeling tired and weak
  • headaches
  • sickness
  • pains in the chest and stomach
  • problems with your sight
  • being out of breath


If you think carbon monoxide is being released in your home, check the following:

  • gas flames may burn orange and yellow instead of blue
  • there will be soot stains on or near appliances
  • you may have difficulty lighting your fire
  • your chimney flue may be blocked
  • the pilot light may frequently blow out
  • there will be more condensation in your home.

Gentoo is totally committed to the safety of our customers and takes our responsibility very seriously. That’s why we insist that your solid fuel appliance is checked and your chimney swept at least twice a year.