HM Insights

Autumn safety bulletin

Autumn Driving Advice

Autumn isn’t all about clear, crisp days and more often than not, in the UK, the season is particularly bad for causing dangerous driving conditions as a result of fog, low sun, drizzle and not to mention wet leaves lying on roads. The Autumn season is also often unpredictable with sunny days and sudden rain showers along with cold, frosty nights.


UK road statistics suggest that the most dangerous time of the year, as motorists, is between October and January. October, in particular, is one of the worst months for low hanging sun glare which occurs first thing in the morning and during twilight hours. The AA has conducted a study which has shown the dazzle from the sun, during early mornings and late evenings, has been responsible for the death of 28 drivers in the UK, annually, and has injured 4,000+ motorists. Research shows that sun glare can affect a driver’s eyes for several seconds, reducing one’s ability to spot pedestrians and other vehicles on the road.

The clocks also go back at the end of October reducing the amount of daylight so drivers should therefore be aware and prepared for darker evenings and mornings. With visibility reduced, the chance of being involved in an accident increases and many drivers will find night time driving a challenge, particularly in the Winter months. Road casualty statistics show that 40% of collisions occur in the hours of darkness.

Motorists can help ensure their safety by:-

  • Allowing extra time for journeys
  • Plan night-time journeys in advance
  • Regularly clean your lights and windows including the windscreen
  • Check all indicators and lights are working
  • Be aware of your fog lights and not use full beam in fog conditions as that reduces visibility
  • Ensure your windscreen wipers are effective and renew worn blades
  • Top up your windscreen washer fluid
  • Check all tyre conditions, pressure and tread depth
  • Reduce your speed and increase your braking distances

Halloween Safety

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October is a spooktacular time of the year with Halloween, pumpkins and all things confectionery. Whilst this time of the year is jam packed with fun-filled activities, the risks to children should also be taken into account by parents.

In 2014, the UK saw a 12% increase in pedestrian fatalities from 398 in 2013 to 446 in 2014. Pedestrians alone accounted for three quarters of the increase in overall fatalities in a two year period. The vast majority of pedestrian accidents occur in urban areas and are often as a result of “darting out” into the road, especially when a child is involved. The excitement of Halloween no doubt increases the risk of children running out between parked cars and across roads. Coupled with reduced visibility, as a result of reduced lighting and dark clothing, the risk of road accidents is high.

To help ensure that your child has a safe Halloween, we have compiled a list of Halloween Safety Tips full of do’s and don’t’s:-

Tips for Trick or Treating:-

  • Always accompany young children whilst doing the neighbourhood rounds
  • If older children are going alone, plan the route for them
  • Agree on specific times that your children are to return home
  • Always encourage children to travel in a group
  • Frequent well known areas only
  • Ensure that children know that they should not enter homes or cars for a treat
  • Advise children to pay attention to roads at all times and less on their mobile phones
  • Encourage children to stay on the pavements and if crossing a road, do so carefully
  • Provide children with some money to make a phone-call (mobile phones can be stolen or lost)
  • Carry identification that is easy to read
  • Ensure your children do not eat any “treats” until you have had a chance to inspect it

If you are a motorist out on Halloween:-

  • Keep a careful watch for children on roads and walking close to the pavement edge
  • Reverse out of driveways carefully and always expect a child to be close-by
  • Keep an eye-out for children in darker clothing when dusk arrives

Halloween Costumes & Safety:-

  • All costumes, wigs and accessories should be fire resistant

This year, trading standards will be carrying out spot checks on hundreds of retailers to ensure costumes meet safety standards This comes after Strictly Come Dancing presenter, Claudia Winkleman’s, daughter was badly burned when her Halloween costume caught fire. An assessment is also taking place to to test whether European Safety Standards are tough enough.

  • If children are allowed out after dark, ensure that they are visible by fastening reflective tape to their costumes and bags
  • If children are wearing a mask ensure that they can see clearly out of it
  • If applying Halloween make-up, only use hypoallergenic and non-toxic make-up

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Firework Safety

Despite annual safety warnings, Bonfire Night, still ends in disaster for many British families. Firework displays are lots of fun but they can be very dangerous if not used appropriately. In 2005, the Department of Trade and Industry (now the Department for Business Innovation and Skills) stopped collecting firework related accident data but the last statistics recorded 990 firework related incidents. In the four weeks surrounding Bonfire Night, over 550 children under the age of 16 were taken to A&E. Statistics suggest that more boys are injured than girls, especially between the ages of 12 and 15 years. However, so long as you follow the right safety procedures, a good time may be had by everyone without risk of injury:

The Firework Code

Only adults should deal with firework displays and the lighting of fireworks. Children should watch and enjoy fireworks at a safe distance and follow the appropriate safety rules for using sparklers. Adults should deal with the safe disposal of fireworks once they have been used.

  • Plan your firework display and make it enjoyable but safe, at the same time
  • Keep fireworks in a closed box and use them one at a time
  • Follow instructions carefully and use a torch, if necessary
  • Light the firework at arm’s length with a taper and stand well back
  • Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks
  • Never return to a firework after it has been lit
  • Don’t put fireworks in your pocket
  • Don’t throw fireworks
  • Direct any rocket fireworks away from spectators
  • Never use paraffin or petrol on a bonfire
  • The safest place for a bonfire is at least 18 metres away from the house and surrounding trees and hedge, fences or sheds
  • Never throw fireworks onto a bonfire
  • Make sure that any bonfire is completely out and surroundings are made safe, before leaving

Sparklers and Keeping Safe

Sparklers are usually deemed as being safe and harmless but they do burn at hot temperatures. Sparklers should not be given to anyone under the age of five. To a young child, a sparkler is equivalent to the heat from a welding torch.

Here are our top tips for keeping safe with sparklers:-

Never give a sparkler to a child under the age of 5

  • Always wear gloves with sparklers – leather gloves are preferable
  • Hold your sparkler at arm’s length
  • An adult must always light a child’s sparkler
  • Light sparklers one at a time
  • Do not wave sparklers about
  • Avoid holding a baby or toddler when holding a sparkler – they can reach out unexpectedly
  • When the sparkler has finished, put it into a bucket of cold water to ensure it is out. Leave it there once done.
  • Never pick a sparkler up from the ground

Carbon Monoxide

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Carbon monoxide is a silent killer – you can’t see, hear, smell or taste it. It arises from the burning of gas and other fuels, including wool, coal and oil. It can build up to dangerous levels if a fuel-burning appliance is incorrectly fitted, badly repaired or poorly maintained. It can also arise when flues, chimney and vents are blocked.

With the nights drawing in and the weather turning colder, more and more heating systems will be switched on for the first time in months. Now is the perfect time to make sure that your boiler is safe by having it maintained by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Landlords, this also applies to you – you have a duty to your tenants to ensure that their gas appliances receive an annual maintenance check to ensure gas safety. Failure to carry out that duty can result in not only a criminal prosecution but also a claim for negligence, should loss or injury arise.

Poorly maintained gas boilers represent a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, the symptoms of which are often confused with a common cold. We recommend that every home has a carbon monoxide detector which will warn householders of any dangers.

Common signs of carbon monoxide poisoning:-

  • Prolonged flu-like symptoms
  • Gas appliances burning with an orange flame instead of a blue flame
  • Sooty stains on or near appliances
  • Excessive condensation in the room
  • Coal or wood fires that burn slowly or go out

To reduce your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, follow our useful tips:-

  • Always contact an engineer through the Gas Safe Register for any gas appliance installation & subsequent annual services.
  • Always check an engineer’s capabilities – those are listed on the back of his identity card
  • If you live in rented accommodation, ask your landlord to show you the property’s gas safety certificate – this should be received annually.
  • Consult your fuel supplier or professional heating engineer for the regular servicing of other fuel-burning appliances
  • Rooms should be well ventilated and chimneys/flues swept regularly
  • Fit an audible carbon monoxide alarm

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