Tripping and Slipping Hazards

As part of the general safety of your property, you should make sure all paths, steps and handrails are maintained in good condition. Patios and decking can become very slippery once green algae grows on them, particularly through the winter months. On a regular basis they will need to be treated with something like Jeyes Fluid or pressure washed to keep them safe. It is also important that paths and steps are provided with outdoor lighting so that they can be used safely at night.

Inside the property watch out for frayed carpets, loose flooring and badly routed cables.

Tripping and slipping injuries are the bread and butter of no-win no-fee lawyers and therefore it is a lot better for owners and their insurers if these type of claims can be avoided altogether.

Tripping Hazard

One of the common types of slipping accident is guests slipping over in the bath. This usually occurs where a shower has been added over an existing bath that does not has a non-slip surface in the bottom of it. If your bath is not non-slip then a rubber bath mat should be provided. These are inexpensive but do need replacing frequently as they tend to become mouldy fairly quickly.

Balconies and Raised Areas

You should ensure that all handrails, balustrades, balconies and external steps are maintained in good condition and that balustrades meet minimum height requirements, usually 1100mm.

Hot Water Temperature

According to the Health and Safety Executive, 'for most people, the scalding risk is minimal where water is delivered up to 50°C at hand-wash basins'. For vulnerable people such as young children and elderly guests who may not be as aware of the risks, the safe temperature is considered to be 44°C. Before you rush off and reduce the temperature of your hot-water, you need to bear in mind that HSE also advise that hot water should be stored at 60°C to reduce the risk from Legionella. Therefore on a practical level a reasonable compromise seems to be storage at 60°C and delivery to taps at 50°C.

In our experience, a number of guests do like to tamper with boiler controls and immersion thermostats which can lead to unacceptably high hot water temperatures. We recommend regular checking of hot water temperature and vigilance at each changeover by you or your cleaner.

The risk from Legionella will be discussed in further detail in a forthcoming update to this website.

Bathroom Door Locks (Privacy Sets)

In your own home you can have whatever lock you like on your bathroom or toilet door, a bolt, a key it doesn't matter. In a holiday property it is always best to fit a proper privacy set which can be locked from the inside but in an emergency unlocked from the outside using a coin. We have seen instances where someone elderly has fallen over in the bathroom and then due to the wrong type of lock being fitted, guests have literally had to force the door open to rescue the occupant causing much distress and damage to the door. Children are also at risk from incorrect door locks as they may inadvertently lock themselves in the bathroom.

The picture below shows damage to a bathroom door which has been kicked open in an emergency.

Privacy set

Ponds and Water Access

Water-fronting properties and guest accommodation with streams and ponds are very popular with guests. However, property owners should be aware that any water feature is a hazard to young children aged five and under. This is particularly so when people are in an unfamiliar place and adults may be relaxing and not supervising their children as closely as they could be.

The risk to small children from water features can be controlled in a number of ways:

  • Imposing an age restriction on occupants. For example, no children under 8. Please do bear in mind that some guests may break the rules
  • Small ponds can be fenced, fitted with safety grills or filled in completely
  • Water fronting properties can be securely fenced with a gate to the river or sea to prevent small children from escaping to the water without supervision
  • If your property is near a beach or estuary with strong currents or fast tide changes then do communicate this information via your welcome folder

We recommend that you also visit the ROSPA website for more information about the dangers of water to young children.

Security of Wardrobes, Shelving and Cookers

A lot of tall wardrobes, shelving units and some free-standing cookers have safety straps to stop them from toppling over. Always ensure these are fitted when installing new furniture. If you are using any antique wardrobes or second hand furniture that could potentially fall over on a guest, make sure they are securely fixed to the wall of the house. In many old properties, the floors are not level and this can make furniture more unstable.

The picture below shows the retaining chains on a recently installed Beko electric cooker.

Cooker safety straps

Blind Cords - Danger to Young Children

According to the safety awareness charity RoSPA, 'there have been at least 28 deaths across the UK due to looped cords since 1999 (17 of which have occurred since the start of 2010)'. The risk here is that young children strangle themselves in the control cords commonly fitted to roller, Roman and other types of blind. We recommend that owners of holiday properties visit the Make it Safe website to find out about blind safety and what can be done to make existing blinds safer.

Safety Glass

Safety Glass should be fitted in all critical areas. Properties that date from before 1992 could well have issues with non-compliant glazing. Ordinary glass can be upgraded using safety film which is like a giant piece of Sellotape that can be retro-fitted.

For full details of the requirements for Safety Glass, refer to Approved Document K: protection from falling, collision and impact

Chemicals and Cleaning Materials in Cupboards

All cleaning materials and other chemicals which could be harmful to small children should be stored out of their reach. Remove any products that are not strictly necessary for guests use.

Swimming Pools does not provide information on Swimming Pool safety. Owners of properties with a Swmming Pool should refer to Managing health and safety in swimming pools which is a HSE guide.