This category is all about Health and Safety Guidance for owners of holiday homes, cottages and complexes in the UK. It contains posts, articles and tips on many areas of managing a safe and legal Holiday Letting business. It includes articles, tips and guidance on fire safety, risk assessments, electrical circuit safety and PAT testing, Carbon monoxide safety and so much more. Check out these posts, Does your holiday home need a fire alarm system? Holiday Home Industry Code Of Practice, Fire Safety Law for Holiday Letting.

Outdoor Play Equipment

Outdoor Play EquipmentWith spring and summer ahead, it will be natural for holiday cottage guests to start spending more time outside. For many families, having the space and facilities for kids to play during their stay is important. For this reason installing outdoor play equipment, if you haven’t already got it, could be a great idea.

If you’re looking to purchase or replace outdoor play equipment at your holiday home or cottage complex, there are a few things for you to consider. Let’s take a look at what those are before you take the plunge…

Invest in quality outdoor play equipment

When it comes to your holiday home it’s essential that you invest in the highest quality equipment available. It not only reduces the risk of accidents as a result of faulty parts or poor construction, it will also last longer, making it a solid long term investment.

We always recommend purchasing any play equipment from a reputable seller, and always follow installation and maintenance guidelines, as tempting as it may be to believe you don’t need the instructions.

Whilst insurance policies tend to come with public liability as standard. You have a duty of care to take reasonable precautions to reduce any potential risks to your guests. Make sure that any play equipment carries the CE or GS mark. Equally it is important that the equipment is installed, maintained, and operated in accordance with manufacturers guidelines. (It’s worth keeping a log of when you last checked it, and other things such as when it is stored inside for winter).

What is the recommended age?

Not all outdoor play equipment is suitable for all ages, so make sure that you’re clear on what age group your outdoor play equipment is suitable for. Ensure that this age is explicitly stated in your welcome information pack, and stress to families that children above and below that age should not be using the equipment.

Essential safety features

Making your new outdoor play equipment as safe as possible. Thus ensuring that your guests have a safe stay in your cottage. Only install equipment that can be secured to the ground. Also it’s important to provide children with plenty of space around the equipment. This is particularly important with items such as trampolines, which will dictate a safe distance in their literature. Check that ropes have protection against wear at their fixing points on swings, and that the sides of slides are at least 64mm high.

Climbing frames must not be any more than 2 metres high. Any equipment that is over 0.6 meters high must have an impact absorbent surface beneath.

Regular inspections

Detailed monthly inspections of play equipment need to be carried out to ensure that it is fit for use. Ropes, bolts, and security must all be checked and repaired or disposed of as necessary. You will also need to frequently clean the equipment.

Always keep a record of when maintenance checks have been undertaken and be sure to have a process for undertaking this activity in place.

Do you have a sand pit?

If you do then you’ll need to be be aware of Toxocariasis, an infection caused by worms commonly found in the intestines of dogs. Children who come into contact with contaminated sand or soil are at risk. We recommend that sand pits are covered when not in use. Animal faeces should be cleaned up at the earliest opportunity. If your accommodation is dog friendly then it’s good to make sure guests are aware of this in their welcome pack.

Check your holiday cottage insurance cover

When making any changes, we always encourage clients to let us know. Play equipment of the type can be found in many DIY stores and some garden centres. Outdoor play equipment carrying the CE or GS mark will generally be fine. It should always be installed, maintained, and operated in accordance with manufacturer’s guidelines. It is always worth getting in touch with your holiday home insurance broker for guidance when adding additional facilities.

Please note that this article on outdoor play equipment and guest safety is only intended as an overview of what you need to be doing in each of these areas.  For further information please contact the relevant authority and read up on all procedures and requirements. Please read the ROSPA guidance which can be found here.

If you have questions about outdoor play equipment and your policy, get in touch on cottages@boshers.co.uk

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. Require a quote for your holiday apartment, cottage or complex? Please give us a call on 01237 429444.

holiday home electrical circuit safe

holiday home electrical circuit safeThere are some items in modern life we just couldn’t do without, whether in the home or whilst on holiday; kettles, coffee machines, toasters, microwaves, TV’s, Hi-Fi’s and mobile devices. These all play a central part of our days, as they will be for those visiting your holiday home. What they all have in common is the need for reliable mains power. As a responsible holiday homeowner you have a duty of care to ensure the safety of your guests. Is your holiday home electrical circuit safe and how do you ensure that it is and remains so?

What are the risks posed by electricity in your holiday home?

The main risks are:

  • Electrocutions and fatal electrical burns

Statistics from 2010 show that in one year 28 deaths occurred in Great Britain due to electrocutions. 6 of these occurred in the work place and 22 were home or leisure related.

  • Electric shocks

A staggering 2.5million people receive a non-fatal electric shock per year, of whom 350,000 receive a serious injury.

  • Accidental electrical fires

In 2011/12 there were 20403 fires of an electrical origin in Great Britain. 2471 of these related to the electrical installation and directly accounted for 8 deaths and 167 injuries.

How old is your fuse board? It may be time to replace it for one with RCD’s

Interestingly a DTI report estimated that 20% of electrical fires could be prevented by the presence of an RCD. RCD’s (Residual Current Device) form an integral part of modern fuse boards. They are very sensitive and trip the electrical circuit at the first sign of a problem.

Source: Electrical Safety First Core Data Set

Your responsibilities as a holiday homeowner

Under the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 and the Health and Safety at Work Act, you have a duty of care. This duty extends to both your holiday lets’ electrical appliances and the electrical circuit.

There are no specific requirements when it comes to the frequency of checks to ensure the electrical circuit is safe. However it is still important to comply with your duty of care. The best way to do this is to engage a professional to conduct an electrical safety inspection.

Conduct an electrical safety inspection

It is best practice to have an electrical safety inspection before you welcome guests into your holiday home. Whilst this is not currently a mandatory requirement for most individual holiday homes, it is widely regarded as best practice. Having an electrical safety inspection will demonstrate that you take safety seriously. Remember your duty of care extends towards your guests and the employees and contractors who maintain your holiday home.

An electrical safety inspection is a common requirement of a quality holiday letting agent, they’ll often require proof before advertising your cottage. Holiday letting agents will have reliable tradesman and will put you in touch with qualified electricians in the area. They are also a basic requirement of the quality assessment schemes which are run on behalf of our national tourism boards.

An electrical safety inspection comes in two parts, and involves (1) an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) which looks at the safety of the electrical wiring circuit installations, fixtures and fittings – and (2) a PAT (Portable Appliance Testing) check.

Top tip: An Electrical Installation Condition Report may be included in the cost when upgrading your fuse board to a modern one incorporating RCD’s.

Electrical Installation Condition Report

As a general recommendation, an Electrical Installation Condition Report should be carried out every five years. This will vary depending on the age of your installation, and if there has been any problems or damage during that period, such as an escape of water. These tests should be carried out by a registered electrician who is qualified to perform them. Any recommended remedial work should be followed through as soon as physically possible.

Once the inspection and any necessary work is complete, obtain a certificate and keep it safe, furthermore your holiday home letting agent may require a copy.

Top tip: ask the electrician who inspects your holiday home electrical wiring circuit for guidance on regular visual inspections that it would be wise for you to make in between each Electrical Installation Condition Report. Keeping a record of such visual inspections will demonstrate that you take your guests safety seriously and may just prevent an incident.

PAT Testing

As well as large fixed wiring installation checks, you should also frequently carry out visual checks on all electrical appliances. From the little things like hairdryers, to larger items such as your fridge and washing machine, you’ll need to give them a visual once over on a regular basis. Check for broken plugs and frayed mains leads, if in doubt have them inspected and repaired by a professional.

It is a general recommendation that portable appliances in a holiday home are checked periodically for faults. This should be done by a competent person, preferably annually. To learn more about Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) checks in holiday homes click the link below:

All holiday homeowners want their guests to have a great time. Having a procedure for checking electrical items in place helps ensure this, as a result you’ll be meeting your duty of care and in addition you’ll also be ensuring they have a safe and enjoyable stay.

Your holiday home insurance

Maintaining a record of when appliances were purchased demonstrates good practice. Staple the receipt to a piece of the packaging which identifies the item and keep them safe. Don’t forget to place a copy of the user instructions in your Welcome Information Folder. Keep copies of your Electrical Installation Condition Report and certificates issued for your Portable Appliance Testing checks when undertaken. Showing that you’re responsible, compliant and have made every effort to keep your guests safe will help smooth the claims process should there be an accident or injury in your holiday home.

Whilst reading this article you’ve probably been asking yourself if you have taken all possible measures to protect your holiday home visitors? We have other articles on these subjects, here are links to a few which may be of interest to you:

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. For more information on how a specialist insurer can help and support your holiday home business, please give us a call for an insurance quote today.

accident report guest injured holiday home

accident report guest injured holiday homeAccidents happen, and whilst health and safety measures will reduce potential risks there may still be a time when a guest is injured at your holiday home. Our holiday home insurance policy comes with public liability as standard, but there are some steps you’ll need to carry out should an accident occur.

Make sure communication is at the forefront of your mind

First and foremost, make sure that as soon as you’re made aware that a guest has been injured, you check on their condition. Identify how serious the incident was, and also exactly where, how and when it took place. Having firm and hard facts will be important when dealing with your insurance provider.

Don’t admit liability

It can be a very English thing to say sorry as soon as someone has been hurt. However, sometimes accidents happen, so until it is completely apparent that the incident has taken place as a result of your actions, don’t steam in and admit any liability.

If someone has been injured discussions in the immediate aftermath can become heated. Think of the best way to deal with the situation. Whether that would be through a face to face meeting or asking them to provide a written account of what has happened (often a good way for them to let off some steam). Do not respond to any correspondence beyond acknowledging receipt and stating that you have passed it on to your insurers. It is imperative that you forward correspondence to your insurers as soon as you receive it.

Inform your insurance company

Next, you will need to inform your insurance provider. We recommend you do this as soon as possible for the benefit of you and your guest. Provide them with full details of what happened (which is why it’s vitally important you gather this information), as well as information on any injuries sustained. The more information you let your insurance provider have the better. If it’s received as quickly as possible they’ll be able to deal with your claim and resolve it. Afterall, this is ultimately what you and the injured party will both want.

Begin gathering information

Once your insurer has been informed, you may need to gather evidence which proves your holiday let is well run. Paying particular attention to how you manage it in accordance with health and safety regulations. This evidence could include maintenance schedules, proof of adherence with legislation, updated risk assessments. Gather these, together with anything else that may be relevant. By displaying that your property and grounds are safe and well maintained will demonstrate that you’ve taken reasonable precautions. Don’t be alarmed if the insurance company appoint an independent adjuster to take photos and discuss the claim with you. They are just gathering the facts, so always be open and honest with them. They’ll take the matter forward with the intention of concluding the claim on the best terms.

Forward all communication to your insurance provider

Finally, ensure that any correspondence from the injured party (or their representative) is dealt with promptly. Where possible forward it to your broker or insurance company by return of post or immediately if by email. Any delay could prejudice your position.

Whilst reading this article you’ve probably been asking yourself if you have taken all possible measures to protect visitors to your holiday home. We have many other articles on these subjects, here are links to a few which may be of interest to you:

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. For more information on how a specialist insurer can help and support your holiday home business, please give us a call. Alternatively for further information on holiday home insurance visit the website page most relevant to you:

 

Disclaimer notices

Disclaimer noticesWe’ve all seen them in everyday life; ‘Park here at your own risk’, ‘Playing in this area is at your own risk’. Disclaimer notices have become an increasingly common sight for most of us. Therefore it may surprise you to find that they don’t absolve the owner from blame should something go wrong. This is equally true for your holiday home and the facilities that you provide for your guests.

Do you have one of these signs at your holiday let? Have you mentioned this sort of wording within your welcome pack? Let’s take a look at:

  • how far these go in removing or reducing your liability, and
  • what you should be doing to make sure that you’re fully covered should the worst happen.

The legal bit – is your disclaimer notice valid?

As part of the unfair terms provisions in the Consumer Rights Act 2015 it is stated that no contract term, or notice, can legally have the effect of excluding or restricting liability for death or injury caused by negligence in the course of business.

What does this mean if an accident occurs as a result of your negligence? Your disclaimer wording won’t get you off the hook in terms of blame.

What exactly does negligence mean in this context? An example may be if someone were to hurt themselves whilst playing on your trampoline. There is of course the risk of an accident happening when bouncing on any trampoline. However should the accident happen for instance because the trampoline collapsed and you hadn’t carried out any recent checks on the equipment. Your disclaimer notice will most definitely not absolve you from any liability.

When could they be valid?

If your notice clearly only applies where someone else, or a factor outside anyone’s control, is to blame, then it can be valid. An example here might be if someone were to swim in an area of the sea that is well known for having a strong rip tide. However, if thinking about your holiday cottage, the majority of elements you will have some sort of control over reducing risk, whether that’s your hot tub, children’s play equipment or a trampoline.

What should you be doing?

Regardless of whether you have a sign on display or not, your responsibility to your guests as a holiday homeowner means that it’s vital to have procedures in place. Ensure that everything your guests are using is regularly inspected and abiding by manufacturer’s and legislative guidelines.

Making sure that you work to processes and guidelines will not only mean that the chances of an accident occurring are reduced, but also ensure that you’re not seen as negligent should it still happen.

The insurance bit

Bosher’s Holiday Home Insurance policies come with £10,000,000 of Public Liability cover as standard. In the event of an accident any insurer will want to know about the steps taken to reduce the potential risk. Keeping a written record of risk assessments, inspections, maintenance and guidance for the use of your facilities is highly recommended. You’ll find more guidance on this below.

Please note this article is only an initial guide to the legal validity of disclaimer notices. For further information about your liability as a holiday let owner please seek legal advice. Alternatively give us a call if it’s an insurance matter.

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. For more information on how Boshers can help and support you as a holiday cottage owner, please give us a call. Alternatively for further information on holiday home insurance visit the website page most relevant to you:

Holiday homeowner liability

Holiday home facilities – 6 steps to improve guest safety whilst reducing holiday homeowner liability risks

Holiday homeowner liabilityWhen adding additional facilites to your holiday home consideration should be given to guest safety and holiday homeowner liability risks. Tourism is an increasingly competitive marketplace; what makes someone choose your holiday home over the property down the road? What it is that differentiates you?

This level of competition has seen an increase in the facilities and products offered by holiday homes to their guests in recent times. Look back 10 years and a hot tub wasn’t such a common site. Fast forward to 2016 and it’s almost a must if looking to attract guests in some locations.

What was previously seen as an added extra is now often taken for granted as a standard element. So with holiday homes becoming packed full of features, where does your holiday homeowner liability lay and what should you be considering each time you add a new element to your let?

Step one: Think before you buy – complete a risk assessment

Before you buy a trampoline or any other additional item for your holiday home, fill out a risk assessment form. What could go wrong? What injuries could occur? Sit down and take the time to really think about every aspect of the new facility. Potential injuries, faults, and problems are just some of the things you should make a note of so that you are completely knowledgeable on the safety, use, and maintenance of your new item.

Step two: How can you minimise risk and ensure a safe experience?

Once you’ve carried out your risk assessment and created a list of potential injuries and problems, it’s time to think about how you can minimise those risks. Whether it is a safety net around a trampoline, or a step with grip out of the hot tub, these little solutions can make a huge difference in keeping your guests safe. Don’t forget, a notice stating that they are using the facility at their own risk will not resolve you from liability should an incident occur. This means that you need to actively take steps to make your new facility as safe as possible.

Step three: Adhere to all legislative and manufacturers guidelines

Legislation will apply to certain items. Hot tubs, for example, have a lot of legislation regarding maintenance. It is vital that hot tubs and similar facilities are maintained accordingly, ensuring that exposure to infection is minimised. Other facilities may also have specific legislation which you will need to research, understand, and enforce in order to comply with UK law.

Step four: Conduct regular checks and maintenance

Regular checks on your holiday letting property isn’t anything new. However, you’ll also need to do regular checks and maintenance on your new facility. The easiest way to keep this up is by creating an inspection/maintenance programme. This will help you to schedule regular checks and provide a record of any inspections made. If you won’t be carrying out the maintenance yourself, particularly when it comes to hot tubs, you’ll need to consider whether a housekeeper or other person will need training. Alternatively you may wish to engage a qualified contractor to provide the maintenance for you.

Step five: Make sure that your guests know how to use it safely

After spending time, effort, and money, on your new facilities you won’t want them to be damaged or broken. Inform your guests by leaving clear instructions for them. By communicating clear guidance means you have done as much as possible to show them how to use the facility, and it is less likely (if following all of these steps) that an injury as a result of misuse could be your fault.

Step six: Inform your insurer

The final step is to inform your insurance company about your new facilities. Make sure that you are abiding by policy conditions at all times. If in doubt about these conditions, then speak with them and make sure you have a clear understanding of what is and is not covered.

You will want peace of mind if an incident does occur. Follow the guidance above and you’ll sleep well knowing that you did your utmost to ensure the safety of your guests. Whilst you may not mitigate your holiday homeowner liability, you’ll likely to reduce your chances of being found negligent. It’s at this point that having quality holiday home insurance in place comes into its own. Your insurers will help to defend any claims for negligence and ensure that claims and expenses are paid in a timely manner.

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. For more information on how a specialist insurer can help and support your holiday home business, please give us a call. Alternatively for further information on holiday home insurance visit the website page most relevant to you:

Holiday Let Emergency Plan

Holiday Let Emergency PlanEmergency Planning – what would you do if something went wrong? We set out some handy tips for preparing a holiday let emergency plan.

As a holiday homeowner or letting agent you’re likely to be responsible for any issues that arise with a cottage during your guests’ stay.

Whilst putting in place effective health and safety procedures and then constantly reviewing those measures will undoubtedly reduce the potential of accidents to happen, the chances are that with a large number of guests staying in your holiday home in any given calendar year, an incident may still occur.

We take a look at how you should and could react in the event a guest suffers an accident in your holiday home.

Preparing a holiday let emergency plan

A cub scout will always tell you that ‘failing to prepare is preparing to fail’.

So, are you prepared with an emergency plan for your holiday home? What do you do when things go wrong? How about if the holiday cottage receives storm damage, or is subject to a fire?

If a crisis arises you need to know what to do, how to react and who needs to be contacted. An emergency plan is a document that gives you this structure and allows you to potentially minimise the impact and potential harm to your holiday home and your guests by providing you with clear courses of action.

What should you include in the plan?

All businesses should have a disaster recovery strategy, which highlights what needs to be done should the worst happen. Your own plan should cover as many emergency scenarios as possible in order to deal with the situation as rapidly and smoothly as possible should it arise.

Remember that this document is going to be used by your guests, so you need to make it as clear and simple as possible to understand. What would happen if a fire broke out at your holiday home during the night? Who would they call?

If you’re using a letting agent it’s worth having a conversation and clear understanding of what you need to do in this respect, the procedures they have in place, and generally where your obligations begin and theirs end.

Communicating your holiday let emergency plan

There’s very little point in having a holiday let emergency plan if your guests aren’t privy to the information within it, when they need it the most. Information, and in particularly emergency contact numbers should be integrated into your current communication process, preferably before guests arrive.

Log incidents

Whether a guest has been injured at the holiday home or the property has suffered damage, keep a record of the incident for future reference. This record should also form an important part of your on-going health and safety or property monitoring; what could have been done or altered in order to minimise the chances of the incident occurring again? For example, if storm damage has been caused to the property as the result of blocked drains and guttering, should you be looking at the frequency with which these parts of your holiday home are cleared.

The main details to log include, the type of incident, date/ time, when, where and any witnesses. This will be useful should you need to make an insurance claim.

By creating an immediate record of any problems it ensures details have been taken accurately while fresh in your and your guest’s mind.

Insurance

If there is an incident involving your guests or holiday home you want to know that your insurer fully understands the situation you’re going through, and also knows the best way to get you sorted as quickly as possible.

For this reason we always recommend using specialist holiday home insurance where possible.

We’ve been specialising in holiday home insurance for more than 25 years; we speak with owners every day, meaning we understand the industry, the demands and the issues you face when it comes to owning a holiday property. This gives us a unique opportunity to provide you with the insurance you really need, and get you back on your feet as quickly as possible.

You may also find the following posts on health and safety guidance for holiday home owners of interest:

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. For more information on how a specialist insurer can help and support your holiday home business, please give us a call on 01237 429444.

 

Holiday Letting Guest Safety

Holiday Letting Guest SafetyAs a holiday homeowner there will be plenty for you to think about; how are bookings looking? Which letting agent do you use? Is the cottage in need of repairs and when does the next tax return need to be submitted by?

With such a long list, one thing you’ll need to keep at the very top is holiday letting guest safety. Your commitment to providing your guests with a stay that is not only enjoyable, but also safe is paramount.

Staying up to date with latest legislation changes set by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is essential for anyone in the industry in order to protect themselves and their guests.

We’ve highlighted some of the key areas of holiday letting guest safety you need to be considering that will help you understand your obligations.

Gas safety – what do you need to do?

There have been more than 200 reported gas safety incidents in the UK over the past year, with 40 people tragically losing their lives as the result of the poisonous, odourless and silent killer that is carbon monoxide.

The consequences of getting gas safety wrong can be loss of life so it’s essential you’re doing the following:

  • You are now legally required to have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms fitted within your holiday home. These should be installed in rooms in which there are gas boilers, fires or any fuel burning appliance or open fire.
  • Your gas boiler and any other gas appliances must, by law, be serviced and have a gas safety check carried out by a Gas Safe Registered Engineer every year.

If you are a letting agent you should obtain Gas Safe Check certificate from the holiday homeowner annually to ensure this has been carried out and that the property is safe for guests. For further information on gas safety read our blog post – Holiday Home Gas Safety

Up to date Gas Safety Check Certificate(s) or a copy should be kept in the holiday home’s Welcome Folder Information Pack to give guests peace of mind.

Preventing fire – what do you need to do?

Fire Safety Law (known as Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005) was introduced in 2006 and makes holiday homeowners responsible for taking measures to protect guests from the risks of fire.

  • As a holiday homeowner you are required to conduct a fire risk assessment, improve fires safety measures as a result of any issues highlighted in the assessment, and keep the risks and measures under review. For more information on how to conduct a fire risk assessment please read our blog – Fire Safety Law for Holiday Letting
  • Despite 88% of fires being accidental, it is vital that you remain vigilant in reducing any potential risks in your holiday home and this should extend to your furniture. Regulations, whilst largely focussed on manufacturers, now extends to the ‘supplier of furniture acting in the course of business’, which of course applies to the owner of the holiday home.  For full information on the requirements you need to meet please read our blog post –  Fire Safety of Furniture and Furnishings in your Holiday Home

Electrical equipment

Over the years our homes and cottages have become awash with electrical appliances and devices. They bring with them convenience, but also an on-going maintenance task. So what do you need to do in terms of checking and replacing your appliances?

  • You have a legal obligation to ensure that any electrical appliance in your holiday home with the potential to cause injury is kept in a safe condition for your visitors to use.
  • Conduct regular visual checks of your appliances, or if you live a good distance from your holiday home, ensure someone is given responsibility for this task.
  • Remember that not all faults will be visible. Whilst there is no legal requirement for you to undertake Portable Appliance Testing (PAT), it is good practice and will help to demonstrate a general duty of care if these checks are carried out in conjunction with regular visual checks.
  • If a visitor reports a potential fault with an electrical appliance ensure it is removed from the holiday home until such time that it can be examined by a professional, or replaced as required.

You may also find the following posts for holiday home owners of interest:

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. For more information on how a specialist insurer can help and support your holiday home business, please give us a call on 01237 429444.

Please note that this article on holiday letting guest safety is only intended as an overview of what you need to be doing in each of these areas.  For further information please contact the relevant authority and read up on all procedures and requirements.

 

Holiday Home Gas Safety

Holiday Home Gas SafetyMany will by now be familiar with the names Christi and Bobby Shepherd, who aged just seven and six, tragically lost their lives as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning whilst on a four star family holiday at a Thomas Cook run hotel. The details behind this case have driven home the importance of taking all the necessary measures to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning for holiday homeowners and accommodation providers both in the UK and abroad.

Tips on preventing carbon monoxide poisoning for holiday homeowners

The cause of this heartbreak, which also left two adults in the bungalow comatose and fighting for their lives, was identified as the gas-fired hot water boiler in an outhouse next to the bedrooms and has highlighted the potentially fatal consequences of ignoring carbon monoxide safety, or getting it wrong. Hopefully by taking a closer look at this tragic case and reviewing the outcomes will provide a positive focus on Carbon Monoxide Poisoning for holiday homeowners and letting agents.

The background

After booking the £2,000 break with Thomas Cook the family arrived on the Greek island of Corfu and were placed in a bungalow at the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel.
On the third day of their trip both children began to display some of the signs associated with carbon monoxide poisoning, including dizziness.

That evening their father and his partner Miss Beatson went to the children who were heard crying and ‘whimpering’ during the night. Bobby and Christi had become overcome by carbon monoxide, and had been particularly affected, as their room was closest to the faulty water boiler.

Once in the bedroom both adults fell into a coma and were close to death when found by a maid the next morning, along with the bodies of the children.

What caused the build up of carbon monoxide?

Thomas Magner, a boiler expert hired by Thomas Cook to investigate, told the Inquest he had discovered a series of faults with the gas boiler, which had resulted in the massive build up in levels of carbon monoxide.

He indicated the boiler had become covered in rust from water leakage over a long period of time, and also been installed without a ‘chimney’ or flue to take away unwanted fumes.

He added that a device designed to cut power to the boiler if it were to overheat had been disabled as little as a day earlier, reportedly to avoid a worker having to come and relight the boiler should the device trip the system.

These problems were exacerbated by a hole in the bedroom wall, which had been designed for air conditioning and not sealed, and allowed fumes to quickly fill the room.

The inquest was told problems with the boiler were first reported five months earlier and ruled that the children had been unlawfully killed and concluded that travel firm Thomas Cook breached its duty of care to the family.

The consequences of this tragedy are unfortunately not unique; carbon monoxide has been the cause of 40 injuries and deaths in holiday accommodation in Britain over the past two years*. Please ensure that Gas Safety is high on your holiday home maintenance priority list and that you remain vigilant in ensuring your visitors are able to enjoy a safe stay in your holiday home. Our top tips:

  • Gas boilers and appliances in holiday lets must by law be serviced and have a gas safety check annually – use a Gas Safe Registered Engineer.
  • Provide a copy of your Gas Safe Check certificates to your Holiday Home Letting Agent annually – they’ll want to be sure your holiday let is safe for guests.
  • Keep an up to date copy of your Gas Safety Check Certificate(s) in your Welcome Information Pack – it’ll give your guests peace of mind.
  • Place instructions for Gas Boilers and Appliances in your Welcome Information Pack for your guests to refer to.
  • Carbon Monoxide Alarms should be installed in rooms with gas boilers, gas fires or any fuel burning appliance or open fire.

For further information on preventing carbon monoxide poisoning for holiday homeowners and gas safety in your holiday home please visit:

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK as well as let property insurance for buy to let landlords. For more information on how a specialist insurer can help and support your holiday home business, please give us a call on 01237 429444.

Ref * Gas Safe Register

Fire safety of furniture and furnishings in your holiday home

Fire safety of furniture and furnishings in your holiday homeThe consequences of a fire in your holiday home can be catastrophic and in some cases fatal; in the last year there were 322 fire related deaths across Great Britain, and whilst this figure is significantly down on the 1988 high of 731, there are on average 39,600 reported dwelling fires every 12 months.

Despite 88% of fires being accidental, it is vital that you remain vigilant in reducing any potential risks in your holiday home in order to ensure your guests can enjoy their stay in the safest possible environment.

What legislation applies to the Fire safety of furniture and furnishings in your holiday home? 

One of the biggest alterations made to the fire safety of furniture and furnishings regulations in recent times was the introduction of The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (amended 1989, 1993 and 2010), which looked to ensure that upholstery components and composites used for furniture supplied in the UK meet specified ignition resistance levels.

These regulations, which do extend to holiday homes, highlighted the fact that prior to their introduction, highly flammable furniture was often becoming an accelerant in the spread of fire throughout a home, and posed a significant risk to those inside.

What do you need to be aware of?

Although the majority of regulations are geared toward suppliers and manufacturers, you do need too be aware of your own responsibilities as a holiday homeowner.

Amendments made to the Regulations in 1993 mean that they now apply to the actual ‘supplier of furniture acting in the course of a business’. With a holiday home this will be the owner of the furnished holiday letting property.

When did you buy your furniture?

Furniture purchased since March 1990 should satisfy the Regulations and be permanently labelled. However, if your furniture was purchased prior to this date it will not necessarily satisfy all of the regulatory requirements.

Any furniture manufactured prior to 1950 is outside the scope of the Regulations.

The six core areas of the regulations are:

  • Filling materials must meet specified ignition requirements
  • Upholstery composites must be cigarette resistant
  • Covers must be match resistant (with certain exceptions as outlined in Section 8.2 and Appendix A5)
  • A permanent label must be fitted to every item of new furniture (with the exception of mattresses and bed-bases)
  • A display label must be fitted to every item of new furniture at the point of sale (with the exception of mattresses, bed-bases, pillows, scatter cushions, seat pads, loose covers sold separately from the furniture and stretch covers)
  • The first supplier of domestic upholstered furniture in the UK must maintain records for five years to prove compliance.

For a full guide on the The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 please visit this link: 

You may also find the following posts for holiday home owners of interest:

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. For more information on how a specialist insurer can help and support your holiday home business, please give us a call on 01237 429444.

smoke and carbon monoxide alarms

smoke and carbon monoxide alarmsWith 450 household fire incidents across the country each and every day (170,000 in the past year), the government has recently promised to get tougher on fire prevention.

On 11 March 2015 the housing minister Brandon Lewis announced that residential landlords in England will now be required by law to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties, with the aim of preventing as many as 26 deaths and 670 injuries caused by household fires each year. Holiday homeowners should already be abiding by the relevant fire safety legislation which applies to those providing accommodation to paying guests and may already in response to their general risk assessments be installing carbon monoxide detectors in rooms with fuel burning appliances, stoves and heating boilers.

Landlords required by law to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms

When will the legislation come into force?

These new measures regarding smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are expected to come into force from October 2015 and it is hoped that many of the 46 fire and rescue authorities across England will help their local communities meet these new responsibilities by providing free alarms, with grant funding from the government to help them do so.

Do fire alarms reduce the risk?

Statistics have shown that people are four times more likely to die in a house fire if they don’t have a working smoke alarm.  Remember, those staying in your holiday home will not be as familiar with the layout and design of your cottage as they are with their own home, meaning that if a fire were to take place, particularly during the night, early warning and identification of a fire is vital to their safety and protection.

How many fire alarms do you need and how do you ensure they’re in working condition?

  • You should have a minimum of one smoke alarm on each floor of your letting property. They need to be clearly audible in all areas so your tenants may hear them in all rooms.
  • Smoke alarms should be tested on a regular basis and in ideal circumstances each week. As this may be difficult if you live a good distance from your holiday home or during peak periods, ensure that someone is designated with the responsibility of checking all of your fire alarms, and that a record is kept of when they were last checked.
  • Your smoke alarms and or their batteries should be replaced in accordance with the manufacturers instructions, even if the alarm is showing no signs of fault.

Why is carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning a risk to your tenants?

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that has no smell or taste, meaning it can be inhaled without you or your guests realising. For this reason it is known as the ‘silent killer’, accounting for 40 deaths and 200 visits to hospital each year in the UK.

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can include dizziness, nausea, tiredness and confusion, stomach pain and a shortness of breath.

What are the most common causes of carbon monoxide poisoning?

Carbon monoxide is produced when fuels such as gas, oil, coal or wood do not burn fully. The most common causes of carbon monoxide poisoning in holiday homes are:

  • Faulty household appliances: You have a legal obligation to ensure that any electrical appliance with the potential to cause injury is kept in a safe condition for visitors to use. Make sure that all appliances in your holiday home are PAT tested by a competent professional.
  • Blocked chimneys: There are approximately 6,000 chimney fires in England each year. Ensure your chimney is swept after any long period of inactivity (wood burning fires should be swept quarterly when in use). This is particularly important if you let your property during the winter months.
  • Burning fuel in an enclosed or unventillated space: This will most commonly be through a faulty boiler in your residential let property or holiday home. Ensure your boiler is serviced and gas safety inspected and approved by a qualified professional on a regular basis and also make sure guests only enjoy barbeques in well ventilated areas.

Carbon monoxide detectors can be bought in the same format as portable fire alarms, or hard wired into your let property or holiday home.

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK as well as let property insurance for buy to let landlords. For more information on how a specialist insurer can help and support your holiday home business, please give us a call on 01237 429444.