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Thumbturn Lock

Thumbturn Lock Why consider thumbturn locks for your holiday home exit doors? Have you had that frustrating moment when you get to the door and can’t find your keys to get out? It can be annoying for a few minutes whilst you locate them. However imagine if this were to happen in the case of an emergency such as a fire. The consequences could be serious and even potentially fatal.

Now consider you’re on holiday, you don’t know the layout of the property as well as your own home. Chances are you and your belongings are all in a state of flux as you relax and unwind. Afterall you are on a well earned holiday. The chances of you knowing where your keys are or even where to look for them are diminished. The consequences of not finding your keys can be very significant. Especially so should you need to leave your holiday home in an emergency. This is where thumbturn locks come into their own!

Keeping your guests safe should an emergency happen

As a holiday homeowner the safety of your guests will be paramount to the service you offer them; you want them to have a great time and you want them to have a safe time.

The scenario we’ve painted may be one you think will never happen to your own guests and it’s certainly one we hope will never happen, but statistics show that fires or other emergencies can; in the past year there’s been nearly 700,000 call outs of fire brigades across the country, which is a staggering 1,900 every day.  261 people died over that period from fire related incidents.

Making it easier for your guests to escape with thumbturn locks

When escaping an emergency such as a fire in your holiday home speed is key. One way you can enable this is by fitting thumbturn locks on final exit doors. On the exterior of the door entry is still gained via a key, but on the inside the door can be quickly and easily unlocked with the turn of a knob.

This ultimately means you only need to use the key when leaving (to lock it) and entering (to unlock it) your property and is a key reason the device is supported and recommended by the emergency services. Considering appropriate means of easy escape, together with raising the alarm is a fundamental part of of any holiday home fire risk assessment.

Can thumbturn locks be fitted retrospectively?

The good news with these locks is that they can be easily be retro-fitted to your existing UPVC or composite doors in a matter of minutes. Speak to a locksmith for guidance on solutions for other types of doors. Remember that these locks are still going to secure your holiday home so we always recommend you use professional tradespeople to ensure that an appropriate solution is implemented.

If you would like to find a qualified locksmith in your area then please click on this link:

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. For information on how we can help and support your holiday home business call us on 01237 429444.

 

Tips for preparing your holiday home for the peak letting season

Tips for preparing your holiday home for the peak letting seasonThe peak letting season is almost upon us. It’s time to get organised and start preparing for an influx of guests (and sunshine!). It’s vital that your holiday home is ready for everything the peak period has to throw at it. And that you’ve also taken every precaution to ensure that guests have a happy and safe stay in your property.

In order to do that there are a few checks that you’ll need be making. Here’s an overview of our tips for preparing your holiday home for the peak letting season.

Electrical items, boilers and alarms

When it comes to the safety of your guests, ensuring that electrical items, boilers, fire and carbon monoxide alarms have been recently serviced and are in full working order should come at the top of your priority list.

Keep a record of when these items were last checked and inspected. Make a diary note of when they’ll next need attention.

There’s further information on the specific checks you’ll need to carry out and how often here:

The garden and grounds

The winter can often take its toll on our gardens, so before guests begin to return to your cottage ensure that you’ve had a thorough check of any external areas; this should include elements such as making sure that winter weather hasn’t damaged nearby trees, that your pathways are cleared of algae or leaves that could cause visitors to slip, and that any decking is in fine fettle.

Whilst a risk assessment can sound like an arduous and technical task, having a detailed list of items to check in the garden (and other areas of your holiday home) will ensure that nothing is missed by you or the person responsible for inspection if you live a good distance from the property.

You can find more information on maintaining your holiday home garden in our blogs here:

The interior

Holiday homes come under more stress than the average home, therefore furniture will sometimes need a little TLC or replacement. Wobbly chairs should be fixed, and that dodgy door knob should be repaired. Even the smallest details, such as a loose floorboard or kink in the carpet, could present a trip hazard for all of the guests that you will be welcoming.

The lead up to the peak letting season is also the perfect time for a thorough spring clean, so pop your marigolds on and give your holiday cottage a deep clean. Replace any tired looking towels, plump up the cushions, and make sure that everything a guest may need is in there.

If you have a housekeeper responsible for changeovers then now is a great time of the year to go through their checks, and ask them what could be altered to reach an even higher level of visitor service in the coming period.

You can find more information on maintaining the interior of your holiday home and housekeeping in our blogs here:

Is your welcome pack up to date?

Your welcome pack should be seen as a key part of your communication with guests, so you should be taking the time to review it on a regular basis and ensure that it’s completely up to date.

Correct emergency information, local restaurant recommendations, and any other information that isn’t right. Also ensure that instructions to electrical items and anything else they may need within your cottage during their stay are readily available.

For more information on using your welcome pack as a marketing tool please take a look at our blog here:

The paperwork

Your welcome pack isn’t the only paper work you should check in the lead up to the peak letting season. Both general and fire risk assessments should be reviewed annually. Ensure that you’ve got all the appropriate certificates covering areas such as gas safety, PAT testing and Electrical Installation Condition Report.

Property maintenance is an essential aspect for holiday homeowners fulfilling their duty of care. Keeping on top of it will ensure you achieve the best returns on your holiday home. A well maintained property will also reduce the risks of holiday home insurance claims.

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.

 

Have you had your holiday home chimney swept

Have you had your holiday home chimney sweptMany of us still love a bit of character in a property. For those of us that do there are few better thoughts than a cosy night in front of a fire. During the winter when the air is cooler and the nights are longer a fire or wood burner really appeal. If your holiday home is able to offer this most British of things to those lucky enough to stay in your cottage over the coming months, then now is the time of the year to be getting your chimney swept and ready for action.

There are still approximately 4,000 chimney fires in the UK each year. The most common cause being that the flue has not been swept, or thoroughly cleaned. This particularly applies after long periods of inactivity, such as summer, when birds can often nest in the vicinity of your chimney and quickly cause a potentially serious blockage. So now really is the time to be cleaning yours.

How often should you have your chimney swept?

The answer depends largely on how often you use the wood burner. As it will be your guests, rather than you using it, a good tip is to keep track of how much wood you’ve supplied in order to establish just how much is being used.

If you and your guests light it infrequently, a general guideline is to have it swept once a year.

Is your fire being lit more frequently? Perhaps the location of your holiday cottage warrants lighting the fire most nights. Then it’s sensible to have your chimney swept twice a year. Before you start having fires in the autumn and then again half way through the winter months. This is also the case should you choose to burn more wood, than coal.

No matter what chimney or flue you have, they must be cleaned and maintained. Have your chimney swept at least once a year as a minimum requirement.

Communicating with your guests

Every fire is different, therefore it’s important that your guests are able to handle simple problems that may occur during their stay. As well as spot potentially dangerous situations before they arise.

It’s therefore sensible to leave clear instructions in your Welcome Folder. Not only on how to light and begin a fire, which many people will be already be familiar with. Also on solving common issues associated with a fire such as smoke coming into the room rather than the chimney. This can be caused by cold air within the chimney itself (particularly if the fire hasn’t been lit for some time). If this is the case then your guest will need to initially burn paper and kindling, in order to quickly increase the temperature inside the flue.

Leave clear instructions and suitable equipemt including a metal bin for disposing of ashes.

If your guests are unable to quickly address a fault the fire should be extinguished and remain unlit until a qualified chimney sweep has carried out his or her inspections and indicated it is now safe to do so.

Insurance implications

Our holiday homeowners are covered for damage to their property as a result of fire. We also understand the potentially devastating financial impact having your holiday home unavailable for let as the result of a fire can have on your business. Our loss of income covers you for the potential loss of income you may suffer as a result of disruption or interruption caused by an insured event such as fire.

This means that should you lose trade then you’ll not have to pay the price of the loss of income. Losses through cancellations and periods of not being able to accept bookings will be picked up by your policy.

We also understand that repairs and maintenance after such an event won’t be immediate; that’s why our indemnity period extends to two years.

Be sure to consider closely the implacations of providing solid fuel fires in your fire safety risk assessment.

For more advice on the importance of having your holiday home chimney swept click the link below:

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. Need an insurance quote for your holiday let? Give us a call on 01237 429444.

fire risk assessment

fire risk assessmentHave you considered what would happen if your holiday home became the victim of fire? Whilst we hope it won’t happen to us, there are more than 40,000 house fires across the UK each year. (That’s in excess of 100 a day). Therefore it’s vital that cottage owners are aware of the consequences a fire could have on their holiday home. Above all owners should take preventative measures. These should be outlined in your fire risk assessment. This will help ensue that the risks of one occurring are effectively minimised.

The law and fire regulations

When it comes to the law, all businesses, regardless of size, are required to comply with the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005. A key aspect of effective compliance is for you to undertake a fire risk assessment for your holiday home, which will identify any potential fire risks and the measures you need to put in place to control them.

Whilst only businesses that employ five or more staff are required to keep a written record of this assessment, it’s recommended that you keep a document outlining your own approach to fire safety in order to prove that you’ve fulfilled your legal requirements.

Creating a fire risk assessment

Many of us won’t have ever needed to create a risk assessment of any kind. So if you’re a new cottage owner or haven’t already got a fire risk assessment in place it can be difficult to know where to start. For this reason, VisitEngland has created a useful tool for you to create your own through their website.

To carry out your own fire risk assessment please click here: VisitBritain – Fire Risk Assessment Tool

Remember that this is only a template and should only be used in order to complete some of the core areas of your own fire risk assessment. Every cottage will have its own unique set of requirements. Do give careful consideration to your own holiday home and any potential risks to your property and to your guests.

Review your fire risk assessment

Your cottage together with potential fire risks can change over time. Therefore it’s important to emphasise that your fire risk assessment should be regularly reviewed. Ensure that any actions required within your assessment are carried out, where necessary by a qualified professional (for example Portable Appliance Testing), and that your document is updated accordingly.

Your insurance

We know that fire can have a devastating impact on any holiday home business. This is especially so if your holiday cottage were to become uninhabitable at a busy time of the year.

Insurance is there to help you through tough times. If a fire were to make your cottage uninhabitable you would not only face the potential bill to fix the issue, but also be left facing a loss of rental income.

For this reason, our own policy automatically covers cottage owners for up to two years’ loss of rental income. As standard, cover is included up to a sum of £75,000 (£37,500 per annum) for loss of rental income. Giving you as an owner peace of mind should your property become unavailable as the result of fire. Does your holiday home have an annual gross rental income in excess of £37,500 per annum (£75,000 over two years)? We can provide additional cover on request.

Further information inluding links to useful guidance and documents are available here – Fire Safety Law for Holiday Homeowners

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. For information on how we can help and support your holiday home business call us on 01237 429444.

Please note that this article gives only an overview of Fire Risk Assessments for Holiday Lets 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 fire risk assessment tool.

Fire Safety Law for Holiday Letting

Fire Safety Law for Holiday LettingThere are many different ways in which a fire could start in your holiday home. Having an understanding of the risks that fire poses to your property and your guests is vital to ensuring a safe stay in your cottage and complying with Fire Safety Law for Holiday Letting.

Complying with Fire Safety Law for Holiday Letting and completing a fire risk assessment

What is Fire Safety Law?

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.

Does it apply to you?

Fire Safety Law will apply to all tourism accommodation providers including holiday homeowners; if anyone pays to stay in your property, other than to live as a permanent home, you will need to comply.

What do you need to do?

There are three core areas to Fire Safety Law compliance:

  1. Conduct a fire risk assessment
  2. Improve your fire safety measures as a result of issues highlighted in the assessment
  3. Keep the risks and measures under review

How do you conduct a fire risk assessment?

A fire risk assessment is a thorough review of the risks of fire within your holiday home, the people that will be visiting your property and the measures you need to put in place to keep them as safe as possible.

It should broadly incorporate five parts:

  1. What are the fire hazards in your holiday home?

This should highlight any area of your holiday home in which a fire could begin. The most common causes of fire in holiday homes include kitchens and cooking, electrical appliances, candles, smoking and chimneys.

Our example:

If you have candles in your holiday home the naked flame from these could be a potential fire risk.

  1. Who is at risk?

Consider who is at risk as a result of each potential hazard; do you have young families staying in your holiday home? Older guests? Disabled guests?

Think carefully about the specific risks they may face.

Our example:

Candles are of particular risk to young children who could knock them over or be tempted to play with the flame.

  1. What is your plan to keep people safe?

Having considered the potential hazard and which of your visitors is at risk, how are you going to make sure they stay safe? What can you put in place to either mitigate or minimise the risk to your guest?

Our example:

Candles will be kept out of the reach of children and placed in holders that shield the naked flame.

  1. Record, train and plan

Make a note of the hazard and any measures you have put in place to minimise the risk. These measures should be communicated to anyone that will be involved in implementing or maintaining your fire safety plan.

Our example:

It was decided that candles would now only be positioned in areas of the holiday home that children couldn’t reach and be placed inside holders.

The holiday home cleaners were instructed of the changes and asked to ensure candles were only placed in those areas and that any broken holders were replaced within 2 days.  The candle would be removed until a replacement holder was available.

  1. Maintaining your fire risk assessment

Your assessment should include regular reviews of its effectiveness. This will also allow you to identify and highlight any potential issues that have arisen since you last put your plan in place.

Our example:

When initially conducting the assessment it was decided another full review would be conducted in two months time.

The review indicated that the steps to minimise the risk of candle fire and accident had been successful, but also highlighted a new barbeque had been added for the beginning of summer; steps would be put in place to address this new potential hazard.

With many guests booked in over the coming month a review would be completed in one month rather than two.

These documents will assist you with the Fire Safety Law for Holiday Letting as a holiday home owner to comply with your obligations under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Click the links below to find out more:

Holiday Home Fire Safety in England and Wales:

For Self-Catering holiday cottage owners in Scotland, the Scottish Government has produced the following:

For Self-Catering holiday cottage owners in Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service has produced the following PDF guide:

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 gives only an overview of Fire Safety Law for Holiday Letting 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. 

Smoke detectorThe consequences of a fire in a holiday home can be extremely expensive, disruptive and even fatal. With local fire authorities attending more than 450 household fire incidents across the country each and every day (170,000 in the past year), they are also more common than you may think.

There are several steps you can take in order to minimise the risk, here’re our tips on preventing the five most common causes of fire in holiday homes.

Kitchen fires – common causes of fire in holiday homes

The kitchen is the room that by far contains the most common causes of fire in holiday homes, accounting for 43% of all household fires.

What can you do?

  • Any build up of fat or grease can quickly ignite; ensure your holiday home kitchen is regularly cleaned and cooker extractor filters replaced.
  • Water should never be thrown onto a pan fire, as it will act as an accelerant. Keep a fire blanket in your kitchen area and ensure it is clearly visible.
  • Position your toaster away from kitchen roll or curtains and ensure it is emptied on a regular basis.
  • Make sure towels, dish clothes and other flammable materials are stored away from the toaster and oven areas in your holiday home.

Electrical Appliances

In excess of 20% of household fires (37,000) are attributed to issues with electrical 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 your visitors to use.
  • If your visitor reports a potential default with an electrical appliance it’s important it is checked as soon as possible and in the mean time not used.
  • Ensure that all electrical appliances are PAT (Portable Appliance Testing) tested on a regular basis.
  • Consider how frequently checks are made. For example, you may wish to inspect appliances on a more regular basis during the busy summer months, when usage will be higher.
  • Always remember potential defaults will not be obviously visible; thorough and regular checks by a qualified electrician are therefore important.

Smoking Fires

Fires related to smoking are the most deadly in the UK, accounting for 36% of all fire fatalities. Not allowing smoking in your holiday home will of course be the most effective way of preventing these fires.

If you do allow smoking in the external and garden areas of your holiday home consider having a designated area for this, and include ashtrays that are either fitted to garden furniture or are too heavy to be easily flipped over or blown by the wind.

Chimney Fires

There are a staggering 6,000 chimney fires in the UK each year.

  • Ensure your chimney is swept at least once a year and in advance of it being lit for the first time in the autumn.
  • If you have an open fireplace in your holiday home a fireguard should be provided for guests and be in place at all times; this will prevent damage to your carpet and sparks flying into areas in which they could ignite.
  • Make sure your wood or fuel source is kept in a dry and cool environment.
  • Consider removing any accelerants (commonly used for barbeques) from your holiday home during the winter.

Candle fires

Whilst candles can create a pleasant, romantic and cosy ambiance in your holiday home, their open flame does have the potential to quickly cause holiday home fires.

  • If you do have candles in your holiday home consider placing them in sturdy holders, with sides higher than the height of the flame.
  • Keep candles out of the reach of children and in a place in which they can’t be knocked over or disturbed.

A quick reminder!

When was the last time you checked your smoke / heat detectors?

Have you carried out an annual review of your Fire Risk Assessment?

Prevention of fire is the most effective way to ensure your holiday home is open for business and all of your visitors are safe.

If you have found this post on the most common causes of fire in holiday homes useful, you may also find the following posts for holiday let 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.

Fire Safety Assessment

holiday home fire risk assessment This article offers guidance on fire safety law for sleeping accommodation providers. Almost six years have passed since the law known as the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, was introduced in October 2006. Despite the passing of time, Fire Safety Risk Assessments for holiday home owners remains, if you will excuse the pun, ‘a hot topic’.

As specialist providers of holiday home insurance for UK lets, this topic is raised frequently during discussions that we have with both holiday cottage owners and holiday home letting agents alike. There has been much confusion and speculation banded around the self-catering accommodation industry about the required frequency and content of a suitable assessment.

Complying with Fire Safety Law for Sleeping Accommodation Providers in England & Wales

Thankfully `The Chief Fire Officers Association’ have produced a leaflet containing information on complying with fire safety law for people who provide sleeping accommodation in England and Wales.

The document is entitled: Do You Have Paying Guests? If so, fire safety law applies to you, and you must take action

It also contains an Example Fire Risk Assessment Form for recording significant findings for small accommodation providers.

This leaflet is concise, written in plain language and aimed at the smaller end of the sleeping accommodation market, such as Bed and Breakfast’s, holiday homes, holiday cottages and holiday let apartments.

These documents will assist you as a holiday home owner to comply with your obligations under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Click the links below to find out more:

For Self-Catering holiday cottage owners in Scotland, the Scottish Government has produced the following:

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

Follow this link for other useful resources for holiday home owners