Last Updated on July 24, 2015 by admin
Being awoken in the middle of the night by the loud blast of a fire alarm can be both terrifying and disorientating. There may well be a multitude of things rushing through your mind; is there really a fire or is it a false alarm? Where are the children? Which is the safest route from the building?
For those staying in your holiday letting property this situation can be all the more complex. Remember, they won’t be familiar with the layout of your holiday home, nor the sound of the fire alarm that potentially fills it.
But think for a moment; what would they do without that sound?
In an environment in which your hearing is the ultimate first warning, what would you do if deprived of this most vital of senses?
Holiday Home Fire Safety for deaf guests and people with hearing loss
For guests to your holiday home that are deaf or hard of hearing (which accounts for 1 in 7 people in the UK) this is a very real problem. Fire safety is so often focused around the preventative sound of the alarm that many holiday homes may be unable to cater for visitors with diminished levels of hearing.
What do you need to do as a holiday homeowner?
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 their guests from the risks of fire and applies to all tourism accommodation providers.
There are three core areas to fire safety law:
- Conduct a fire risk assessment.
- Improve your fire safety measures as a result of issues highlighted in the assessment.
- Keep the risks and measures under review.
When combined with the Equality Act 2010 (which requires you to provide, where reasonable, equal access to those with disabilities), this means it’s vital your fire risk assessment takes into consideration potential visitors that are hard of hearing or deaf, and then puts in place procedures to allow them to enjoy a safe stay in your holiday accommodation.
As a provider of guest accommodation, what is reasonable?
Accommodation and service providers have a duty to take reasonable steps to remove, alter or avoid any physical barriers that make it impossible or reasonably difficult for people with disabilities to use their facilities. Factors to consider include, whether the proposed adjustments meets the needs of the disabled person, is affordable and whether it would have a serious effect on other people. What might be looked upon as reasonable for a large hotel chain may not be so for an individual furnished holiday letting property or small bed and breakfast.
With the above in mind, there is an opportunity for small self-catering accommodation providers to differentiate themselves by going the extra mile.
What are your fire safety options for deaf guests?
There are a range of options and equipment on the market that will allow you to keep hard of hearing guests safer in the event of a fire.
Here’s an overview of one of these:
The Deafgard by Fireco
The Deafgard by Fireco is a battery powered unit a deaf or hard of hearing person can take to their room.
In the event of a fire alarm sounding the unit is triggered and vibrates a pad that fits beneath the guest’s pillow, flashes an LED light and displays the word ‘fire’ to ensure your guest is fully awoken and aware of the alarm being sounded.
Here’s a quick look at how it works:
This is an efficient way to ensure hard of hearing and deaf visitors are made aware of an alarm seconds after it sounds. You may find that guests with hearing difficulties may bring their own Deafgard or similar device for use at your holiday home. However if it’s affordable to your holiday letting business, making one available is a great way to differentiate your holiday home and fulfill your responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010.
These devices are available on the open market, for more information click here – Deafguard | Fireco.
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 gives only an overview of Fire Safety for deaf guests and the hard of hearing and we suggest you take advice from a qualified professional before making any decisions in this area if you are not confident of using the above guidance.