The festive period is one of the busiest times for a care home – all kinds of extra activities are planned and the traffic of visitors can be double what it normally is. It is also the busiest time for Insurers as both personal and commercial clients are exposed too much greater risks during this period (fire claims alone have been known to increase by up to 26% during December). Any damage or loss to your business can be a costly coal in your stocking, but most can be avoided by taking simple precautions to protect yourself and your business.
At this time of year, lots of lights, decorations and candles are a key feature of the celebrations. It goes without saying that candles and any naked flames pose a specific fire risk so this will need to be considered as part of your risk assessment procedures. It is best to avoid using candles if possible, but if you are going to use them it is important to ensure that all candles are encased in a candle holder and placed on a heat resistant surface. They should also be kept away from fabrics and should never be left burning overnight.
Take a moment to review the tree lights you want to use – check they have been tested thoroughly and inspect them visually, looking for bare wires or frayed insulation. It is also important to check that any lights being used conform to the British Safety Standards and if they are no longer under warranty (usually if they are older than 12 months) that they have been PAT tested. Make sure that you don’t overload plug sockets and you should ensure power leads and cables do not pose any trip hazards. It is also advisable that all lights need to be turned off overnight.
Of course, it goes without saying, make sure your smoke alarm is in proper working order and test it regularly.
Trees & Decorations
It is vital that you do not place your Christmas tree or flammable decorations near a source of heat (like candles, an open fire or cooking equipment). You also need to ensure that your tree is situated in a place which gives reasonable access to the tree while ensuring it does not obstruct exits and evacuation routes. Check it is held securely in place so that it cannot toppled over as it could cause a serious injury if it falls on someone. It may also be worth considering an artificial tree to avoid any risk posed by pine needles, such as slipping, getting them stuck under the skin, allergic reactions or the increased fire risk. You can even look into buying a flame resistant, non-allergenic tree.
This time of year brings with it longer nights and a drop in the temperature. It is essential that you ensure that all exterior surfaces of the home are well lit and have been well gritted to prevent residents, staff and visitors from tripping over or slipping on ice. Making sure the home is well maintained and in good working order before any severe weather hits will help you prevent damage to the property from the wind, rain and snow. Clear out any guttering and drains, check your roof (including sheds, garages and outbuildings) and consider pruning any low hanging branches from nearby trees.
Frost can cause burst pipes risking water damage. It is important to familiarise yourself with the location of your stopcock in case of emergencies. It’s also worth lagging pipes and checking your water tank is insulated and also consider lagging outside taps to prevent them from freezing.
It is very common for a care home to expect an increased number of visitors during the festive period. This not only opens your business up to a greater risk of someone doing something untoward in your home (theft, abuse etc) but also of a third party injuring themselves on your premises. It is vital to complete full security checks for anyone being allowed on site and giving the visitors identification so that staff know who should and who should not be on the premises at all times. It is also essential to keep a record the amount of people in the building as this will be imperative in ensuring everybody’s safety in the event of a fire. As stated before, it is important to ensure the grounds around your property are safe and the risk of any visitor slipping and hurting themselves is miminised.
Is your cover adequate?
Finally, check your insurance documents to ensure that you are adequately covered if the worst does happen –
- Are your sums insured for your contents high enough to cover the extra items at the home during this time?
- Do you have adequate business interruption cover should the home need to be closed due to fire or flooding?
- Does your current policy give enough cover for any public in employee liability claims?
- Does your current policy contain any terms or exclusions around theft or liability that may leave you exposed to the cost of settling a claim yourself?
If you are unsure about your cover then call the Care Team at ALDIUM for a free, no obligation review of your Insurance Schedule on 0151 336 5881 (option 1) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org