carbon monoxide

carbon monoxide

Reported cases of carbon monoxide poisoning, often dubbed the ‘silent killer’, have increased significantly in the past twelve months. As reported in the press around 1,800 properties have been affected in the past year across Devon and Cornwall. This represents an increase of 134% year on year. So what exactly is carbon monoxide and where does it come from? What do you need to do in order to ensure your holiday home is safe from any potential issues?

What is carbon monoxide and where does it come from?

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that has no smell or taste. It is a silent killer that causes around 25 deaths across the UK every year. It’s produced when fuel doesn’t burn properly or completely. Poor fitting and maintenance of appliances such as cookers, boilers and wood burners being the most common causes in households across the UK.

How can it be detected and what are the symptoms of poisoning?

Because the gas has no smell or taste, it’s impossible to know that you’re being subjected to it until symptoms appear or it’s potentially too late. The early symptoms of potential carbon monoxide poisoning can include:

  1. Headache
  2. Feeling nauseous (sick) or dizzy.
  3. You may also feel tired or suffer confusion.
  4. Some people are physically sick (vomiting) and can show signs of abdominal pain.
  5. After further exposure individuals have also been known to suffer memory loss, confusion and problems with coordination.

The issue with many of the early symptoms is that they can often resemble everyday aches and pains. For example having a headache or feeling tired after a long day! Many may also resemble the flu; however, the key difference is that CO poisoning will not cause the individual to have a temperature.

What do you need to do as a holiday homeowner?

There are a number of steps that you need to take as a holiday homeowner to ensure the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning are minimised for your guests:

Use approved installation and service engineers 

Make sure that all appliances within your holiday home have been correctly installed and are maintained by a professional on a regular basis. Any tradesperson undertaking work in your holiday let should also have the relevant accreditation for their trade. For example, if you’re having a new gas boiler fitted the work should be undertaken by a business that is on the Gas Safety Register:

Fit carbon monoxide alarms in your holiday home

Your cottage should be fitted with carbon monoxide alarms in any area in which fuel is burned. Recent research has shown that 80% of homeowners aren’t sure whether or not their own alarm is working. And many are not aware of the difference in sound from their smoke alarm. For this reason, ensure that your holiday home checks include testing of fire and CO alarms on a very regular basis to ensure they’re both functional.

Have your chimneys and flues regularly swept

Although carbon monoxide poisoning is often associated with gas appliances, blocked chimney flues are one of the most common causes of CO in homes across the UK. If your holiday home has a chimney and working fire it should be swept on a regular basis and particularly after long periods of inactivity. You can find out more about chimney sweeping and safety in our blog here:

Ensure your holiday home is well-ventilated

CO is able to build up in rooms and areas of your cottage that are not well-ventilated. Ensure that your cottage has plenty of ventilation in areas that are burning fuel and that air bricks are not blocked by furniture or any other item.

You can watch a useful video on preventing carbon monoxide poisoning here:

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. Would you like an insurance quote for your holiday letting property? Give us a call 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.


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

Boshers are delighted to announce that we’re supporting Gas Safety Week (15th – 21st September)

Gas Safety Week

Gas Safety Week is an annual safety week to raise awareness of gas safety and the importance of taking care of the gas appliances in your home, holiday home or buy-to-let property.

It is co-ordinated by Gas Safe Register, the official list of gas engineers who are legally allowed to work on gas.

Why are we supporting Gas Safety Week?

  • There were 219 reported gas safety incidents in the UK last year.
  •  343 people suffered injuries as a result of those incidents.

10 people died from gas accidents in 2013, with nine of those related to carbon monoxide poisoning.

CO (carbon monoxide) poisoning is one of the most common causes of injury, accounting for nine of the 10 UK deaths in the past year.

As an invisible gas it can often be too late; the consequences of not being thorough and on top of gas safety in your holiday home can be fatal and tragic.

Checks for holiday home owners to complete at the end of the summer season 

  • Check your CO alarm

This should be checked on a regular basis and the batteries replaced. This also applies to systems that are hard wired to your holiday home, which will in most circumstances have back up battery power.

Keep a log of when you change batteries and inspect the alarm for future reference.

  • Where are your gas appliance instructions? 

Instructions to all gas appliances, including barbeques and your CO alarm, should be readily available and easy to find.  Ensure they’re still available for guests and that they are in a legible form and free from any damage incurred during the summer. 

  • Get your appliances inspected by a Gas Safe Registered Engineer

Any gas boiler or other gas appliance in your holiday home should undergo a gas safety check by a Gas Safe Registered Engineer every year.

The Gas Safe Register is the official list of gas engineers who are qualified to work safely and legally on gas appliances. By law, all gas engineers must be on the Gas Safe Register, which replaced CORGI registration.

Before any gas work is carried out always check the engineers ID card and make sure the engineer is qualified for the work you need doing.

You can find a local registered engineer by visiting or by calling 0800 408 5500 and speaking to a Gas Safe advisor.

  • Review the way you communicate gas safety with your guests

Holiday homeowners are perhaps in a unique position, where they often live away from their property but have people regularly inhabiting their home and using their gas appliances.

Remember that the appliances in your holiday property will likely to be different to those that your visitors use in their own home. This means communication on how to use them safely is vital.

Be proactive; resolve any issues that have arisen from your procedures but don’t wait for incidents to happen. Always look to improve the way you communicate gas safety with your guests.

  • Ensure future checks are in place

The summer is an incredibly busy time for our property owners. With bookings, arrivals, change-overs and a multitude of other tasks on the to-do list things can fall through the cracks as there’s not enough hours in the day.

Make sure that you schedule your gas checks now to ensure they’re still a priority when things get busy.

We hope that you and your guests enjoyed a very good summer season and are already looking forward to the next!

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 the list included within this article is not exhaustive.

Communicating Gas Safety to your Holiday Home Guests

Cooking surface and gasCarbon monoxide (CO) is a highly poisonous gas produced by the incomplete burning of gas, liquid gas, oil, coal and wood. It has been the cause of 40 injuries and deaths in holiday accommodation across the UK in the past two years and is something that many visiting your holiday home are becoming more and more aware of.

Whilst visitors will fully understand the precautions and procedures they take to ensure gas safety is met in their own home, some may feel vulnerable or apprehensive when visiting holiday accommodation.

This provides an opportunity for holiday homeowners to be proactive in communicating the measures they’re undertaking to ensure their stay is completely safe and alleviate any fears or apprehension.

Communicating Gas Safety with your Holiday Home Guests

  • Ensure that your CO alarms are located in a suitable position within your holiday home. These may often be positioned next to fire alarms and in this case ensure that they are clearly labeled and can be told apart.
  • Instructions for use of the alarm should be readily available, in addition to information on when they were last checked and batteries replaced. A log should be kept of when checks are made to ensure you are aware of when they next need to be undertaken.
  • The gas appliances you provide in your holiday home are likely to be different to those your guests use in their own home.  Provide instructions for the safe use of appliances and make sure that they are easy for visitors to find. This information should also be provided in your welcome pack.
  • Any gas boiler or other gas appliance in your holiday home should undergo a gas safety check every year. After a Gas Safe Registered Engineer has carried out a safety check or serviced your gas appliance they may leave you with a report, which explains the checks they have completed. This can be left with your appliances or kept in a central location within the home to show guests the work that has been undertaken.
  • If your holiday home includes a gas BBQ for use during the summer months ensure that full instructions for safe use are clearly visible and communicated to your guests. This should include information on where the BBQ should be situated (in a well ventilated area), when and where it should be stored and the signs of any potential defects to the BBQ and its gas joints.
  • There are six key symptoms of CO poisoning; headaches, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness, collapse and loss of consciousness.  Signage highlighting the symptoms of poisoning along with the importance of vigilance surrounding gas safety for your guests is available from various charities and other gas safety organisations. These needn’t be obtrusive or compromise the visual aesthetics of your holiday home but will emphasise your commitment to gas safety.

For further information on ensuring your holiday home is gas safe please call the Gas Safe Register on 0800 408 5500 or visit

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.

Landlords Gas Safety

CO Poisoning Risk - Appeal for landlords to check cooker make and model in their letsCO Poisoning Risk – Appeal for landlords to check cooker make and model in their lets. An urgent appeal has been issued today to thousands of consumers who remain at risk from potentially fatal carbon monoxide poisoning in their homes despite concerted efforts by the manufacturer and trading standards to reach them.

Earlier this year it emerged that a number of Leisure, Flavel, New World and Belling cookers produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide if the grill door is not left open during use, as specified in the instructions.

Since then nearly 40,000 of these appliances sold have been tracked down and modified thanks to extensive advertising, mail-outs, safety notices sent with energy bills, phone calls and home visits.

But more than 25,000 homes still have one of these cookers, which could produce extremely dangerous levels of carbon monoxide should the grill be operated with the door closed.  Of these, only 12,000 are known to the manufacturer.

The Trading Standards Institute is supporting the manufacturer’s plea for consumers to respond to this alert by checking the make and model of their cooker – the safety risk can be easily eliminated from the affected appliances by an engineer with a simple modification.

TSI’s product safety lead officer Christine Heemskerk said:  ‘Trading standards and the manufacturer have been working very hard to locate and modify these cookers.

‘Another national press campaign with a safety notice is now being launched and we are urging consumers, including landlords and letting agents, to check the brand and model of their cooker today as there is a serious risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, made worse now with the weather turning cold – there is less ventilation as people are keeping their windows and doors closed to keep the cold out, and some people may be using their grills improperly to heat their accommodation.

‘Anyone who might have one of these cookers should immediately contact the manufacturer and arrange for a free modification.’

The freephone number to call the manufacturer is 0800 342 3049.




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Other articles of interest to landlords and holiday let owners:

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 posts and other useful resources for holiday home owners

For further information on UK holiday home insurance visit the website page most relevant to you: