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There 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.
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.
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:
- `At your own risk’ | How valid are disclaimer notices?
- Holiday home facilities | 6 steps to improve guest safety
- Holiday letting guest safety – understanding your obligations
- How to comply with the fire safety law for holiday letting
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.