Student Safety

Each year
0
serious injuries and 70 deaths are caused by electricity

Almost
0%
of all domestic fires are caused by electricity

There are
0
Illegal gas jobs are carried out each year

Every year
0
people die from carbon monoxide poisoning. 270 are hospitalised.

Prepare for the most

time of your life

A one stop shop for safety

Keeping you or your children safe when staying away from home to study

You or you child have just been accepted into a University. It might mean living away from home for the first time…

This can be both an exciting and worrying prospect. You might be thinking about the cost, the commuting distance and the local amenities – but have you thought about safety?

Click the headings to learn what to know and what to do.

1) CHOOSING ACCOMMODATION

Everyone is different – find the right place for you.

Advice from Which? University

Which-University-logo-150px

Which? University is a free website designed to help students across the UK make more informed decisions about their higher education choices.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

There are 3 main types of accommodation you may consider. Consider the pros and cons for each.

University Halls

The Pros

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    Get To Know People

    Living with other students is a great way to get to know people.

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    Be Well Placed

    You’re likely to be conveniently placed for any on campus goings on and be well supported by the university if anything goes wrong.

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    No Fuss Bills

    No need to think about the complications of bills or landlords.

The Cons

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    In At The Deep End

    You don’t get to choose who you live with – this can be all part of the fun, but it’s not for everyone.

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    FIRST CHOICE NOT GUARANTEED

    Accommodation is allocated on a first come, first served basis, so you might not end up living in your ideal place.

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    Noise And Mess!

    You may have to get used to putting up with noise and mess.

Private Student Halls

The Pros

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    Close To The Action

    This set-up is similar, but owned by a private company. It has many of the advantages of university halls, except they may have less power to help if something goes wrong.

The Cons

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    Check the Costs

    This option has many of the same pitfalls as University Halls, but make sure you also factor in any up-front or additional costs, and studio rentals will be pricier.

Private Accommodation

The Pros

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    Independence

    You’re in charge of where and with whom you’re living, which for many is an important step towards independence.

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    Flexibility

    The private rental market is packed with different living options to suit you. These include the location, size and type of the accommodation and the costs of living.

The Cons

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    Check Your Location

    You may find yourself outside the main campus, or even a distance away. Make sure you’re happy with all that entails.

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    Budget

    You’ll need to budget, especially if you’ve never lived away from home before. Managing your money and paying bills on time is an additional consideration.

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    Get Organised!

    You will be dealing with your own admin, and directly with a landlord or letting agent. You’ll need to keep on top of things.


Checklist

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    Do Your Research

    Make sure you know what you’ll be getting for your money (what bills are included, what facilities are on site, and what sort of activities and communal spaces there are). Also ask about any up-front costs so you can factor these in.

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    Contact Your University

    Your university will have an approved list of student rental companies, and may have a more formal partnership in place with a private company to provide student accommodation, if this is the option you choose.

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    Consider Your Budget

    You may have to compromise on how you live depending on your budget. What is more important to you? Having a larger, better room to live in or having enough money to enjoy yourself with your friends? You might have to choose!

If you are uncertain on which accommodation is best for you, get advice.
The Which? University website has a lot of information on the different types of accommodation as well as other helpful links that you will find useful. So, if you need more information visit http://university.which.co.uk.

2) RENTED ACCOMMODATION

If you choose to rent, make sure you understand your landlord’s obligations.

Advice from Which? Legal

which-legal-logo-14px

Which? Legal provides independent, jargon-free legal advice and step-by-step guidance.

What you should know

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    Understand your tenancy agreement

    The type of tenancy agreement that you have with your landlord will affect your legal rights. There are a number of different tenancy agreements, and most will state clearly what type they are. The most common is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement.

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    Understand your landlords obligations

    Knowing what your landlord is obliged to do can ease your stress at anxious times, especially when it comes to repairs, deposits and notice periods to terminate the tenancy.

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    Understand your rights

    You have the right to have the home that you rent kept in a reasonable state of repair and your landlord has a legal responsibility to properly maintain it. This also covers the interior of the building too, including sinks, toilets and drains and gas appliances.

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    Your Deposit

    If you have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement, your landlord must use a tenancy deposit protection scheme to safeguard your deposit. This means that you will get your deposit back at the end of the tenancy, provided that the landlord doesn’t need to make deductions for damage.


Checklist

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    Utilise your University Housing Office

    Your university housing office can support you with finding a private rented property. They usually have approved lists of landlords and student-friendly lettings agents.

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    Check the contract

    Joint contracts: you may be asked to sign a joint contract. Be aware that this means you could be chased if someone else doesn’t pay the rent! Check this before signing.

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    Check how long you are committing to

    Private accommodation contracts tend to cover the entire year rather than just university term time – so you may be paying rent for a period while you’re not actually living there – check if this is the case.

If you are uncertain on any renting agreements or disputes, get advice.
Which? Legal can advise you on your rights as a tenant, as well as those of the landlord and letting agency. To find out more, visit
legalservice.which.co.uk
.
This guidance applies to England and Wales only
If your university is based elsewhere ask your university housing office for advice and resources.

3) GAS SAFETY

Understanding your landlord’s obligations could save your life

IN ASSOCIATION WITH GAS SAFE REGISTER

GS_logoFB-70px

Gas Safe Register is the official list of gas engineers who are qualified to work safely on gas appliances.

What you should know

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    The landlord must ensure regular Gas Safety Checks

    By law landlords must keep all gas appliances supplied for you in good condition. They must carry out a 12 monthly gas safety check on each gas appliance/flue.

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    Then show you the Gas Safety Record

    Your landlord should provide you with a record of the annual gas safety check within 28 days of the check being completed or if you’re a new tenant before you move in. 

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    Or put it somewhere on display

    It is also permissible for your landlord to display a copy of the Gas Safety Record in a prominent position within the property.


Checklist

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    Ask to see the Gas Safety Record

    There’s no better way to make sure the property has had a gas safety check than to see it for yourself.

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    Cooperate

    Let in a registered engineer when a gas safety check or servicing has to be done.

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    Ask for their ID

    To ensure they are a Gas Safe registered engineer.

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    Check the boiler

    Are there any signs of staining on the exterior? Has it been serviced within the last 12 months?

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    Look out for warning signs

    These include lazy yellow flames instead of crisp blue ones, or black marks/stains around an appliance.

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    Fit a carbon monoxide monitor

    Your landlord only has to do this in a room with solid fuel burning appliances – so buy one for yourself and test it regularly.

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    Trouble with the landlord

    If your landlord refuses to properly service and safety check the appliances they have provided, call the Health and Safety Executive on 0845 345 0055.

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    In an emergency

    Call the gas emergency helpline on 0800 111 999.

HEADACHES, NAUSEA OR BREATHLESSNESS?

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that can kill quickly with no warning. Don’t mistake the symptoms for a hangover.

– Leave the property until it’s safe

– Call 111, or 999 in an emergency

– Contact your landlord

LOOK OUT FOR THESE SIGNS

  • headaches

    HEADACHES

  • nausea

    NAUSEA

  • breathlessness

    BREATHLESSNESS

  • collapse

    Collapse

  • dizziness

    Dizziness

  • loss-of-consciousness

    Loss of Consciousness

4) ELECTRICAL SAFETY

Reduce your risk of injury and ensure landlords follow the law

IN ASSOCIATION WITH NICEIC

niceic-70pxNICEIC is the UK’s leading voluntary regulatory body for the electrical contracting industry.

What you should know

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    The landlord should have an Electrical Installation Condition Report

    Every 5 years or when there is change of tenancy a landlord should have had completed an “Electrical Installation Condition Report” – this should confirm the electrical installation is safe to use.

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    Work done should carry a BS7671 certificate

    If any recent electrical work has been carried out in the property a certificate should have been issued to the landlord confirming that the work conforms to UK national standard BS7671.

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    Your fusebox should have RCD protection

    The fusebox in the property should have RCD protection, which should be tested quarterly.

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    Have you seen PAT?

    Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) is the examination of electrical appliances to make sure they are safe to use. Although not a legal requirement all electrical appliances should be tested every 6-12 months and a PAT sticker placed on them if they have passed.


Checklist

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    Ask to see the report

    Ask to see the Electrical Installation Condition report – a good landlord will have this available.

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    Ask to see the BS7671 certificate

    Ask if any recent electrical work has been carried out. If yes, ask to see the BS7671 certificate.

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    Check sockets, switches and light fittings

    Are they in good condition? If there are signs of damage or cracking raise it with the landlord.

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    Check leads and flexible cables

    If they are damaged or frayed there could be a risk of electric shocks and fires.

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    Never mix water with electricals

    Never take electrical appliances into the bathroom or touch appliances with wet hands.

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    Check for PAT stickers

    Check that any electrical appliances provided have up to date PAT (portable appliance test) stickers on them. This is not a legal requirement but something that is recommended. It will have been completed by the electrician doing the test. This is not generally required if the appliance is under a year old.

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    Demand RCD protection for your fusebox

    Check the fusebox has RCD protection. An RCD is a life-saving device that protects against electric shocks and fires. These can also be used in sockets for protection.

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    Don't overload the sockets

    Never overload sockets and never plug adapters into adapters.

Problems with the landlord?
If you have reported a problem to your landlord and he or she has refused to put the situation right or ignored your request, you should contact your local authority who will be able to help you. Local authorities will ensure a landlord is meeting their legal obligations and can take enforcement action against them if necessary.

NEVER CARRY OUT YOUR OWN ELECTRICAL REPAIRS

When it comes to electrics, DIY is not an option. Be smart and leave it to the professionals.

TIPS

  • PAT STICKER

    pat

  • RCD FUSEBOX

    rcd

  • GET CHECKED

    report

WARNINGS

  • socket

    Don’t Overload Sockets

  • frayed

    Don’t use frayed plugs

  • warning

    Never mix water and electricals

5) FIRE SAFETY

Learn about the legal requirements for fire safety in a rented property

 

What you should know

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    The landlord should carry out risk assessments for fire

    They should also be available for you to see.

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    There must be at least one smoke alarm on every floor

    But this should not stop you having one of your own for your bedroom.

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    It's the landlord's responsibility

    To ensure all alarms are in working order at the beginning of each tenancy. But this should not stop you asking to check for yourself.

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    Carbon monoxide monitors

    Should be provided in every room that has a solid fuel burning appliance.

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    Self-closing doors

    These should be fitted to all rooms. They help to contain a fire should there be one, and protect the staircase so everyone can get out.

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    Safe furniture

    Furniture in the property should adhere to current legislation covering cigarette and match ignition tests. Proof of this should be clearly shown on a label.


Checklist

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    Know your fire exits

    Do you know where the fire exits are in the property. This means all of them, not just the closest one.

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    Keep them accessible

    Make sure they are always accessible both inside and outside.

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    Check your alarms

    Check smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are working – your landlord should be doing this but there is no reason why you shouldn’t do this yourself.

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    See the fire risk Assessment

    When was the last fire risk assessment carried out? Have any actions required been taken? This must be reviewed at the beginning of a new tenancy or when building works are carried out of the property. Outside of these times it is good practice that the assessment be carried out every 12 months.

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    know your fire extinguishers

    Do you know where the nearest fire extinguisher is?

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    Ask for them to be checked

    Fire extinguishers should be checked annually by the landlord and a date recorded of the test on the extinguisher… has this been done?

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    Ask for a kitchen fire blanket

    Check if there is a fire blanket available in the kitchen – if there is not ask your landlord to provide one.

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    Know your building's alarm points

    If your building has fire alarm points, make sure you know where they are. It’s important to be able to raise the alarm quickly should you need to.

Remember
In the event of a fire, the recommendation is to evacuate the property immediately and call 999 to contact the fire brigade.
Electrical sockets
Do not overload electrical sockets – this is very dangerous.

SMOKE ALARMS SAVE LIVES… BUT ONLY IF THEY WORK

Test your smoke alarms monthly. Last year over 200 people died in fires in the home. You’re at least 4 times more likely to die in a fire in the home if there’s no working smoke alarm.

6) GENERAL SAFETY

Reduce the risk of propety damage and burglary by being safety aware.

 

What you should know

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    Are landlords responsible for your safety?

    Your landlord will have certain legal obligations to meet in relation to your safety in relation to gas and electrics but you should be comfortable the property is safe in other aspects.

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    If there is something wrong with the property should you fix it?

    If the property requires some repairs or additions always contact your landlord before undertaking any yourself… although you may be trying to be helpful if you make things worse you may be liable for the cost of further repairs.

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    There is so much to do - will this take long?

    No and whilst this is an exciting time looking for a property it is well worth spending a few minutes checking on general safety precautions.


Checklist

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    Have a walk around the property

    Does it look secure from the outside? Think about how you would get in if you lost your keys, if it is easy for you then think how easy it would be for someone else!

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    Check for a burglar alarm

    If there is not one could the landlord install one? Did you know that 84% of burglars would avoid a home with a working alarm!

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    Is there external lighting?

    Remember you may look at a property during the day… ask yourself would you feel secure entering the property at anytime of the day.

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    What about the windows?

    Check the windows are secure.. are they fitted with secure locks and are the handles in good working order?

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    Check where the stopcock is

    Although you should not undertake any plumbing in the property you should know where the stopcock is should you need to turn the water off in a hurry.

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    Have a look at the front and back doors

    Do they look solid and secure? It takes someone 60 seconds typically to break into a home and in most cases they come through a door!

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    What locks should be on the doors?

    Ideally doors should be secured using a mortice lock and/or nightlatch that meets British Standards BS3621. If you are a flat..is your flat door secure? Does it have a chain fitted?

7) PURCHASES FOR YOUR PROPERTY

Understand your rights when making purchases

IN ASSOCIATION WITH DISPUTE RESOLUTION OMBUDSMAN

DRO-wide-150px

A free, independent and not-for-profit service settling disputes between consumers and retailers.

What you should know

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    Why is this important?

    Although your landlord or University may provide the furnishings and appliances you need you may find yourself in the position of making additional purchases for your property.

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    What is the Dispute Resolution service?

    It is a cost effective alternative to the small claims track in the civil courts.  You have specific rights when you make a purchase and it is the retailers responsibility to adhere to these rights

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    What if I change my mind?

    Shops don’t have to accept returns for non –faulty products, the good news is that most have a goodwill returns policy. Check this before you buy.

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    What legislation protects my purchases?

    In October 2015 consumer legislation was simplified and a new act was created for purchases made after the 1st October 2015, this is called the “Consumers Rights Act”. This act provide resolutions should a purchase you make be faulty or not as agreed contractually.

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    What if it's faulty?

    If you make a purchase and the product does prove to be faulty you have 30 days to return the product to the retailer for a full refund, after this time they should provide alternatives to a refund, such as repair or replacement within a reasonable timeframe.

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    Safe furniture

    Furniture in the property should adhere to current legislation covering cigarette and match ignition tests. Proof of this should be clearly shown on a label.


Checklist

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    Keep your receipts

    Keep accurate records of your purchase and any correspondence – this is always helpful in resolving issues.

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    Don't rush into buying

    Be really clear on what you are paying for and agreeing to with the retailer – read any materials relevant to your purchase, like the terms and conditions.

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    Act quickly

    Whatever your issue is with a purchase act quickly, remember you have 30 days to return a faulty product for a refund. Most shops have a limit for non faulty returns, usually 28 days. Check the return policy before you make your purchase.

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    Card Protection

    If you paid by credit card, you also have extra protection under the Consumer Credit Act., especially if the item is over £100. The credit card company is just as responsible as the retailer or trader for the goods or service supplied, allowing you to also put your claim to the credit card company.

8) HELPFUL PRODUCTS

Costing only a few pounds, these could save your life

 

What you should know

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    What should I take with me?

    Although a landlord has an obligation to provide safety equipment in their properties there are many small products that can be purchased that could protect you from the risk of fire, carbon monoxide and electric shocks.

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    Will these be expensive?

    No, here are some products that you would be worth investing a few pounds on and taking with you to give you additional peace of mind in your property. Ultimately, these could save your life!

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    Where can I buy them from?

    All of the products listed will be available in DIY home improvement stores or online, so it is really easy to purchase them.


Products to consider

Carbon Monoxide Detector

A carbon monoxide (CO) alarm should be fitted in any home that contains a fuel burning appliance, like a boiler, and tested regularly to ensure that it is working.

BETWEEN

£5 – £150

Smoke Alarm

Smoke alarms offer vital protection as they provide an early warning of trouble, and will alert you to a fire even if you are asleep. They should be tested regularly.

BETWEEN

£10 – £200+

Fire Blanket

A fire blanket is the safest way to extinguish a pan fire but you could also use a damp tea towel.

BETWEEN

£5 – £50+

RCD protection – single plug

These offer protection from a single plug socket electricity overload – they are very easy to use and can prevent shocks.

BETWEEN

£8 – £20+

Extension lead with RCD protection

If you are going to use an extension lead make sure it has RCD protection – this will help ensure the socket does not become overloaded.

BETWEEN

£8 – £20+

Fire Extinguisher

If it is safe to do so, small household fires can be tackled with appropriate fire extinguishers. Your landlord should provide these, you may choose to take one of your own. The extinguisher itself will have clear instructions for use. Remember, in the event of a fire the best thing for you to do is leave and call the fire brigade.

BETWEEN

£10 – £50