Can You Ever Be Too Old to Drive?

Can You Ever Be Too Old to Drive?

Currently, there is no upper age limit for driving a car. All drivers have to renew their licence once they reach the age of 70 and every 3 years thereafter.

Those approaching their 70th birthday will be sent a renewal form by the DVLA. When completing the form you have to confirm any medical conditions you may have. Your eyesight must also meet the requirements for driving.

So why are we still driving into our twilight years?

Figures show that with the introduction of the NHS our life expectancy has increased. Living longer, having children later and working longer can all cause the continued use of a motor vehicle.

Technological features all make driving a car for the older person easier and safer. These include:

• cruise control
• power assisted steering
• self parking
• reverse warning or blind spot sensors
• rear cameras
• seats with lumbar support
• and adjustable steering wheels

It may surprise many that the estimate of over 4 million drivers are aged over 70. A little over 200 people aged over 100 are still driving too. With the growing population and longer lifespan, this is only going to increase.

For years there have been arguments for and against allowing the elderly to continue driving. The argument for the “Silver Surfers” is usually upheld by those past the ages of retirement. Most feel that they are still active, capable and don’t want to loose their independence. Those against the “Geriatric Trundlers” are the usually younger generations. Some feel that their elders have poorer eyesight and reactions/reflexes.

To class everyone over the age of 70 unfit to drive would be wrong. A senior citizen is no more likely than anyone else to cause an accident. A mature driver has greater experience and adopts a more careful and restrained driving style to the young in what has been termed as the “boy racer”.

Regardless of this, people latch on to stories of the aged mistaking accelerate for reverse or driving the wrong way down a motorway. With regular calls for the over 70’s to self-certify their own capability to drive.

The awkward moment; how to tell your aged relative or friend it’s time to give up driving

To tell someone that they are past it is a very hard thing to do. If you have any concerns about an elderly person’s driving address the matter sooner rather than later. A delay in doing so could be fatal.

Plan what you want to say and if you can talk it over with a close friend or relative first, do so. One who has already had experience of either side of this particular coin would be a good choice.

Take time to consider the drivers’ point of view. It isn’t only a reminder of a growing inability to take care of themselves the lack of independence, of mobility, the inconvenience of using Public Transport and the practical issues such as the weekly shop.

Giving up driving could also have an effect on where they live, whom they can see and what interests and leisure activities they can pursue. This won’t be a one chat and it’s agreed, car keys handed over and the car is up for sale the next day. Unfortunately, this might seem a simple health and safety issue but to them, it represents an end to the life as they know it.

Don’t go in all guns blazing, think of this as an opening discussion, a way to broach the subject so it can be dealt with. You may need to revisit the subject on a couple of occasions. Remember, unless they are suffering from dementia it’s not up to you to demand the person immediately stops driving. If you think that it is for the best, they are adults and as such you need to respect their rights.

But, if all else fails and you have real concerns over a person’s fitness to drive you can contact the D.V.L.A. They promise anonymity and will write to the driver requesting they see their doctor to complete a form. Unfortunately, if the doctor agrees that they meet the Medical Standard of Fitness and signs the form, the DVLA has no power to revoke the licence. It would be against the driver’s Human Rights, but if the worst happens, at least your conscience is clear!

Towing a Caravan or Trailer This Summer? 9 Useful Tips

With winter now in the rear view mirror and the warmer weather ahead of us, thoughts turn to days out and holidays.

If you are considering on hitching up a caravan or trailer, then beware. What you can tow depends on its size, weight, the type of license you have and when you passed your test.

Follow our guide to hassle free and safe journey;

• New to towing?

Be aware that towing a trailer will affect the handling of the vehicle. Extra care needs to be taken when braking and reversing.
Consider taking a towing course with one of the caravan clubs.

• Insurance:

Don’t assume that your car insurance covers you for towing. Even if it does there may be certain size or weight restrictions. This also applies to Breakdown cover. Check with your insurance company as cover varies between policies.

Have you declared your tow bars and roof racks? These are often regarded by insurers as ‘modifications’.

Unlike motor vehicles, there is no legal need to insure touring caravans or trailers. Thus it is unlikely that you have cover for this under your car insurance policy. You need specialist caravan insurance to provide cover against theft, damage and liabilities.

You should also consider insuring any contents as these are often a target for thieves.

• Equipment:

For vehicles registered after 1st August 1988 –
Any equipment used for towing must be type approved for your vehicle and meet EU regulations.

Fit suitable towing mirrors if the trailer is wider than the rear of your car.
Fines for towing without proper mirrors – up to £1,000 and 3 penalty on your license.

You must display the same number plate on the trailer as the towing vehicle.

Braking systems are required on trailers over 750kg.

You must use a breakaway cable or secondary coupling. This engages the trailer’s brakes (if fitted) or stops the trailer should it become detached from the vehicle.

• Know your weight limits:

The maximum authorised mass (MAM) also known as gross vehicle weight (GVW) is the weight of a vehicle or trailer including the maximum load that can be safely transported on the road. Check the maximum weight in the owner’s manual and shown on a plate or sticker fitted to the vehicle.

Date of driving test Maximum weight
Before 1 Jan 1997 Drive a car/van/ minibus towing a trailer up to a combined weight of 8,250kg
1 Jan 1997 – 18 Jan 2013 Drive a car/van up to 3, 500kg
With a towing weight up to 750kg
N.B. to tow more than 750kg the combined weight should not exceed 3,500kg
Since 19 Jan 2013 Drive a car/van towing a small trailer up to 750kg
N.B. Total combined weight not to exceed 3,500kg

(Information correct as of 26/04/2017)

To tow anything heavier you need to take a car and trailer driving test (also known as the B&E test).

Know your speed limits
Built up area 30 mph
Single carriageway 50 mph
Dual carriageway/motorway 60 mph

These are the maximum limits allowed and are not necessary safe driving speeds. Always take into account the weather conditions and adjust your speed accordingly.

• Know your towing width limit:

The maximum trailer width is 2.55 metres.

• Know your towing length:

The maximum trailer length is 7 metres.

• Be prepared:

Carry out maintenance checks on both vehicle and trailer.

Ensure the trailer is correctly secured in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.

Adjust the tyre pressure of the vehicle accordingly for the load towed.

Take care when packing, do not overload. The load should be evenly distributed by placing items centrally and above the axle. The loaded weight of your caravan or trailer should be no more than 85% of the kerb weight of the towing vehicle. This can be found in the manufacture’s handbook.

Fines for a vehicle in a dangerous condition – up to £2,500, a ban and 3 penalty points on your license.

• Whilst driving:

Incidents involving towed vehicles are not only distressing for those involved but cause long delays for other road users.

Be considerate of other drivers, don’t keep switching lanes.

It is illegal to drive in the outside lane of a motorway whilst towing a caravan or trailer.
Be aware when travelling abroad that the laws vary from country to country, so read up before you go.

For the latest rules and regulations about towing go to: www.gov.uk/towing-with-car

A woman using her mobile phone whilst driving.

The Use of Mobile Phones When Driving

The use of a mobile phone or hand – held device whilst driving is illegal. As of 1st March 2017 police are cracking down on the continuous use of mobile phones by drivers. You could have 6 points deducted from your licence including a £200 fine. For new drivers, this could mean having your licence revoked.

When can you use a mobile device whilst driving?

You may only use your device in case of an emergency to call 999 or 112. This is only if it’s unsafe and you are unable to stop.

When can you use a mobile device in your vehicle?

You are not allowed to use your phone at any point when you are driving or even if the engine is running. You may only use a device in your vehicle if you are safely parked and the engine is off with the keys out of the ignition.

Using your device for navigation:

• A cradle is a popular option for hands-free navigation when using your mobile device for commuting.
• When using a device for navigation plug it in before you put the keys in the ignition. Holding/touching a device even if switched off is still a felony. You must not touch it at all once the engine is on.

Using your device for Music:

• Under no circumstances should you use your device to change music. Either use the car radio or prepare a playlist before you enter the vehicle.
• If you must have music from your phone device make sure it is set up before you set off.
• Use of headphones can mean 6 points off your license and a £200 fine.

Uber or cab drivers:

By law, you are not allowed to touch your device when the engine is running. If you work for a cab firm this means you cannot accept work whilst on the move.

Using Bluetooth:

You can use a cellular device via Bluetooth whilst driving. Yet, using the loudspeaker from your phone is not allowed and seen as a danger and distraction.

Be aware:

Death by dangerous driving is no longer the short term of 14 years. You can now serve life imprisonment.

If you ever make a call and the person on the other line is driving – hang up. Similarly, If you are a passenger in a vehicle where the driver is using a cellular device – take it off them. It is a serious danger to both them and the passenger/s of the vehicle.

As an employer, encouraging your staff to use a mobile device whilst driving can result in imprisonment and fines for your company, as well as possible suspension of service.

For more information:

https://www.gov.uk/using-mobile-phones-when-driving-the-law

Protecting Your Pets This Christmas. Boxer dog laying on his side with a santa hat placed on top of his head

Protecting Your Pets This Christmas

Christmas can be a hazardous time for our four legged friends and with all the excitement we need to take extra care to keep them safe and well.

So beware of the following hazards in order to avoid a “Nightmare Before (During & After) Christmas”;

Christmas tree:

Ensure your tree is secured, cats love to climb and you don’t want it toppling over causing damage or injury. Beware of pine needles as they can get stuck in paws and if swallowed can puncture the digestive tract. Don’t let your pet drink the water used to hydrate the tree as it causes stomach upsets.

Tinsel:

Cats cannot seem to resist swinging and chewing on tinsel. Not only a choking hazard but it can get stuck in the digestive system causing problems.

Christmas decorations:

They come in all kinds of fun shapes and sizes and look like the perfect toy to play with and chew.

Christmas lights:

Twinkling lights may look pretty but can be a great danger to your pets who like biting down on them. Be cautious and vigilant placing your lights within easy access to your pets to avoid unwanted shock.

Poinsettia, Holly & Mistletoe:

These traditional Christmas plants can cause drooling and severe gastrointestinal upset. Other plants that are harmful to animals are lilies and daffodils.

Chocolate:

Poisonous to both cats and dogs, containing a chemical called Theobromine which affects the heart, central nervous system and kidneys. There is no antidote and dependent upon the amount eaten it can be fatal. Specialist pet chocolate is available.

Caffeine:

Like chocolate, caffeine is a stimulant and has the same effects, so don’t leave your mug on the floor.

Onions/garlic:

Particularly toxic to cats and dogs causing gastrointestinal irritation and possible red blood cell damage. So don’t be tempted to give them a bit of stuffing.

Alcohol:

Alcohol is more dangerous to animals than humans. In addition to suffering the same effects of vomiting, disorientation and loss of coordination they can also suffer cardiac arrest, seizures and sometimes even death. So keep an eye on your glass and make sure they don’t try and steal any.

Avocado:

Containing a substance called Persin, it causes vomiting and diarrhoea. Never feed to birds or rodents as this can cause difficulty breathing and fluid accumulation around the heart.

Grapes, Raisins and Sultanas:

Lethal to pets, the unknown toxic substance causes kidney damage. So keep the mince pies and Christmas pudding to yourself.

Dairy products:

The majority of dogs and cats are lactose intolerant and eating dairy products can cause vomiting and diarrhoea. Specialist cat milk is available.

Macadamia nuts:

Not only do nuts, in general, pose a choking hazard, eating these nuts causes vomiting, weakness, tremors, depression and hyperthermia.

Xylitol:

This artificial sweetener is found in numerous foods and drinks. Causing potentially fatal low blood sugar levels, it has been linked to fatal liver disease and blood-clotting disorders.

Yeast dough:

If you are making your own bread this year, keep it up out of the way of nosy dustbins, the yeast will continue to swell inside their little tummies causing pain and possible blockage.

Cooked meat bones:

“Give a dog a bone” but not if it is cooked as they splinter easily and can puncture the digestive system causing problems.

Over excitement and overeating:

Christmas can be as exciting for animals as it is for children and we all know that too much food, excitement and late nights ends with fractious little ones and upset tummies, so if you don’t want Tiddles scratching Aunt Betty or Fido throwing up over Uncle Albert, don’t give them mountains of food they aren’t used to and ensure they have a place they can get away from it all and rest.

Please note that above is only intended as a guide if your pet becomes unwell and you suspect that he/she has eaten any of these items, please make a note of what was eaten, when, how much and contact your vet for professional advice as soon as possible.

Staying Safe at Christmas. Close up of Christmas tree with bauble in focus

Staying Safe at Christmas

Christmas is a time your home is likely to be filled with friends and family. In the excitement of it all, accidents can happen.

More than 80,000 people attend A&E with Christmas related injuries each year. With a little care and planning, most accidents can be avoided.

Tree

According to RoSPA about 1,000 people each year are injured by their tree; either by falling whilst decorating or the tree falling on top of them.
RoSPA Christmas Safety

When buying a real Christmas tree, select one that is fresh with no needle drop. Place it in a water-holding tree stand, keeping it topped up daily and the room cool. As a tree becomes dry it becomes highly combustible.

If using an artificial one, make sure that it is fire retardant.

Ensure your tree is the right size for the room, secured to prevent it toppling over, away from heating equipment or ignition sources and doesn’t block escape routes.

Fairy Lights

According to RoSPA around 350 people are injured by Christmas lights each year; from children swallowing bulbs to electrocution.

Before decorating the tree, cables and bulbs should be checked for damage. Top tip: plug into mains to ensure they are working before spending time placing them around the tree.

You should consider replacing older sets of lights and illuminated decorations for those with low voltage LED bulbs which conform to BS EN 60598.

Always use in accordance with manufacturers instructions.

Never decorate the tree with the fairy lights on.

Remember if you are decorating the garden only use lights specifically designed for outdoor use.

Keep lights clear of decorations and remember to switch off at the mains when unattended or on retiring at night.

Decorations

Remember when positioning decorations not to block intruder alarm sensors.

When hanging decorations use a step ladder safely and don’t overreach.

Beware of children and pets climbing the tree or trying to eat/play with the decorations.

Christmas plants

Mistletoe, holly, lilies, daffodils, Christmas Rose, Christmas Cherry and Poinsettia are all toxic; keep out of the reach of children and pets.

Candles

Take care with candles; never place them on the Christmas tree.

Always use an appropriate holder to avoid spillages of hot wax, even tea lights that come in their own metal container have been known to burn through baths and TV sets.

Stairs

Make sure that stairs are free from obstacles and well lit especially if you have guests.

Presents

Always purchase age appropriate gifts for children from a reputable retailer and which conform to The Toys (Safety) Regulations 2011.

Remember to buy batteries for toys that need them to avoid being tempted to take out the ones from the smoke alarm.

Have a screwdriver ready and a pair of scissors to assist in opening packages. Open carefully to avoid cutting fingers.

Clear up as you go and keep an eye out for small items that could pose a choking hazard for children and pets.

Always read instructions.

Kitchen

Sharp knives, boiling water and hot fat make the kitchen a very dangerous place.

Try and keep others including pets out of the kitchen and wipe up any spills as soon as they happen.

Give yourself plenty of time to prepare and cook the dinner.

Avoid drinking alcohol until you have finished cooking.

Consider a fire blanket, smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm.

Indigestion and food poisoning.

Studies by the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) reveal that, on average, we gain 2kg (5lbs) in weight during the Christmas period.

Overeating not only leads to weight gain but can lead to a nasty case of indigestion and heartburn which can sometimes be confused with a heart attack (or even a heart attack being ignored because you think you have indigestion!)

To avoid food poisoning always read the instructions and cooking times.

Alcohol

Apart from the health risks, alcohol reduces your awareness and co-ordination. Alcohol relaxes you so you lose awareness about everyday risks.

Ensure all items such as glasses and tins are removed and thrown away to avoid little ones and pets drinking the remains if they get up during the night or early in the morning whilst everyone is still asleep.

Travelling

Plan any journeys you have in advance with frequent breaks to avoid driving tired.

Never drink and drive.

Stress

One of the most stressful times of the year, the combination of Christmas shopping, decorating, wrapping, cooking, relatives and lack of sleep can lead to arguments and tears.

Don’t spread yourself too thinly and try and give yourself some alone time even if it is a walk in the park or a hot scented bath.

Unfortunately for some, Christmas is not full of excitement, they may be homeless or own their own with no one to share it with or have lost someone or be unwell.

If it all gets too much, find someone to talk to like the Samaritans.

You can call the Samaritans 24/7 365 days a year on:

Fireworks

Plan fireworks well in advance and follow the Firework Safety Code.

A close up of a cup off coffee being held by someone wearing thick grey wool gloves

Protecting Your Home this Winter

Every year numerous accidents and millions of pounds worth of damage are caused by the colder weather. By planning ahead and taking some basic precautions, the effects of the damage can be minimised or averted altogether.

How to be prepared

Have a ‘charged’ torch to hand in case of a power cut or emergency during the night.

Keep a note of reputable contractors or insurance claims line numbers to call in a convenient spot.

Ingress of water, storm damage, flood, and damp

Particular attention should be paid to the maintenance of flat roofs and repairing of loose tiles.

Keep guttering and downpipe hoppers clear of leaves to avoid a back up under the tiles causing ingress of water.

Trees should be inspected annually and remedial action taken where necessary. All work should be carried out in compliance with BS3998.

Attention should be paid to the maintenance of boundary walls and fencing.

In the event of high winds, secure or store items such as garden furniture and dustbins.

Be aware of severe weather warnings http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/warnings

Observe the amount of snow fall on roofs such as conservatories and if safe to do so, clear before the amount can reach unsafe levels.

Clear pathways of snow before it becomes compounded, use grit salt or sand to stop it freezing over.

If you are in a flood area, sign up for emergency flood alerts https://fwd.environment-agency.gov.uk

Consider investing in flood defences such as sandbags or flood barrier.

Keep damp course line clear of soil and plants.

Remove climbing plants that cause damage to the brickwork and pointing; such as ivy.

Avoid condensation by allowing air to circulate, invest in installing air blocks or using small portable dehumidifiers.

Burst Pipes

Know where the main (in the street) and subsidiary (within your home) water stopcocks are and check that they are in working order.

Have your boiler and central heating annually serviced?

Lag your pipes and water tanks to BS6700, include any outdoor drainage and condensation pipes to protect the boiler.

Repair dripping taps & faulty ball valves to avoid frozen pipes.

For unoccupied properties or during extreme cold conditions, leave your thermostat on low.

If you have one, leave the loft hatch open to allow heat to rise and avoid frozen pipes in the loft space.

Fire or Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Install a smoke alarm and invest in a small fire extinguisher and fire blanket.

If you have an open fire, have your chimney cleaned annually and use a fire guard.

Do not dry clothes indoors near bar fires or naked flames.

Use surge protectors on electronic equipment.

Bonfires and fireworks should be a safe distance away from buildings and fences.

Install a carbon monoxide alarm.

Security

Ensure you always lock your windows and doors when you are away from the property or asleep at night.

Don’t leave keys or handbags near the front door; burglars poke long poles with hooks through letter boxes.

Purchase a timer to turn your lights on and off to give the impression someone is at home.

Don’t advertise that you are away on social media.

With Christmas around the corner don’t leave presents under the tree on view from windows.

Consider investing in an alarm.

Keep side/rear gates locked.

Don’t leave items lying around outside that can be used to break in such as ladders.

Car

Ensure your vehicle has an annual service and MOT.

Check your tyres for wear and ensure your lights are working.

Check your fuel, oil and water levels adding antifreeze/coolant.

Don’t be caught out by the weather; the following items should be carried in your boot; dry food & bottled water, thermal blanket, snow shovel, hi viz jacket, torch, first aid kit, warning triangle.

Although added weight in the boot uses more fuel, it aids grip and helps avoid skidding whilst driving in ice and snow.

Adhere to the advice given by the emergency services and do not travel unless absolutely necessary.

Whether by car, public transport or on foot, if travelling in inclement weather, wrap up, take extra care, carry a fully charged mobile and always tell someone where you are going.

Water leak

Turn off the subsidiary stopcock and turn on all taps in the house including flushing the toilet to drain the system as quickly as possible and call a plumber.

Never use a naked flame to thaw frozen pipes

Gas leak

Open all windows and doors

Turn off all cooking appliances. Extinguish all cigarettes/cigars/pipes. Call your gas company’s emergency number

Never light a naked flame or turn on any electrical switches

Winter Driving Tips. Interior view from the inside of a car looking out onto a winter scene of a motorway

Winter Driving Tips

Driving in winter is very different to other times of the year, bad weather conditions and longer periods of darkness can make even familiar roads treacherous and unpredictable.

When planning on driving in adverse conditions listen to the weather warnings and ask yourself if your trip is really necessary.

If travel is unavoidable, ensure everything on your car is in good working order, especially your tyres, lights and windscreen wipers. Keep a full tank of fuel and emergency kit in the car in case of accidents, breakdowns or jams.

Before setting off make sure all internal glass surfaces on your car are clear of mist and externally clear of ice and snow. It is illegal and dangerous to drive if visibility is impeded.

Always put safety before punctuality and leave plenty of time for your journey. Get your speed right to maintain the correct stopping distances between vehicles.

Remember your journey can contain many micro climates so always beware of the weather and driving conditions.

Here are a few tips to driving safe in our changeable weather;

Heavy rain:

Use the windscreen wipers to aid visibility.

Reduce speed to avoid aquaplaning. Should you find the car sliding, ease off the accelerator and brake until your speed drops sufficiently for the car tyres to make contact with the road again.

Remember you need twice the braking distance to slow down and stop.

Do not attempt to drive through deep or fast flowing flood water.

Remember to test your brakes after driving through water.

Snow & Ice:

If you start to skid when driving in snow or icy conditions, don’t panic, reduce your speed, apply the brakes slowly and smoothly, release and de-clutch, keeping the wheels pointing towards where you want to go and allowing your speed to fall.

Remember you need up to ten times the braking distance to slow down and stop.

When driving downhill, reduce speed, keep in a low gear and avoid using the brakes.

When driving uphill, choose a suitable gear in advance, keep at a constant speed and avoid stopping.

If stuck in a rut, move the vehicle slowly backwards and forwards using the highest gear you can. Do not rev your engine as this will make matters worse.

If you are truly stuck, do not leave the vehicle, switch off the engine and call your breakdown service for help.

The biggest danger is “black ice”, not really black but transparent and invisible. It forms most commonly when the temperature is at their coldest. It forms readily on Bridges and on parts of the road where the sun doesn’t shine such as under overpasses as they are normally the first to freeze and the last to thaw.

Fog:

In gloomy conditions reduce your speed and always use dipped headlights, never use full beams in fog as it reflects light back.

Put your fog lights on if visibility drops below 100 meters.

If visibility is very poor, it is advisable to approach junctions and crossroads slowly and wind down your window to enable you to listen out for approaching traffic, however; if you really cannot see, you should consider pulling over and stopping until it is safe to continue your journey.

Strong winds:

Reduce your speed.

Avoid driving a high sided vehicle.

Keep tight control of the steering wheel.

Take extra care on bridges and exposed roads.

Low sunshine:

Reduce your speed

Ensure your windscreen is clean and streak free inside and out

Have a pair of sunglasses to hand

For further information:

http://www.rac.co.uk/drive/advice/winter-driving

http://www.rospa.com/road-safety/advice/drivers/better-driving/winter-tips/

Products Recalls. Pictured Samsung S5 phone laying screen down of a surface

Product Recalls: From Tumble Dryers to Smartphones

First it was tumble dryers and now mobile phones are bursting into flames.

Following the problems with certain models of Whirlpool tumble dryers earlier in the year, you will have seen the news headlines that Samsung have issued a product recall on their Galaxy Note 7. This is due to reports of devices exploding or bursting into flames because of an issue with overheating batteries.

On October 10 2016 Samsung took the decision to stop sales and shipments of Galaxy Note 7 devices.

Everyone with a Galaxy Note 7 has been asked to stop using their device and to replace it for another device in the Galaxy lineup.

Samsung is reminding their customers that the Note 7 is the only affected device in their range of smart phones. It was reported last week that the recall has caused the division’s operating profit to drop by nearly 98%.

Not a good time for Samsung at the moment as they have just announced a voluntary recall of washing machines in the U.S. over injury reports.

Read Samsungs consumer guidance for the Galaxy Note 7 here.

Info on switching your device here.

(Pictured above: Samsung S5)

Stay Safe This Bonfire Night. Silhouette of a small boy watching a colourful bonfire

Stay Safe This Bonfire Night

With Halloween now behind us and Bonfire night just around the corner we would like to share some essential tips on staying safe this Guy Fawkes Night. Whether you’re throwing your own bonfire & fireworks party or going to a planned display; be sure to stay safe.

Having a party?

If you’re planning on throwing a party this autumn make sure to have a safe designated space for your bonfire and setting off your fireworks. Too many Bonfire Night related accidents occur each year, often caused by carelessness and lack of concentration. Ensure they are set a reasonable distance away from your house, trees and any other obstructions that could be set alight. This also goes for your guests. Ensure the safety of your guests by remaining in a safe area, possibly even indoors. The recommended standing distance from your fireworks is 5-8 metres.

If you are unsure of an unlit firework, do not return to it. It could go off unexpectedly and seriously injure you and others around you.  For more information on firework safety click here.

When lighting a bonfire be sensible not to use combustible items such as petrol, lighter fluid and gas canisters as these can cause a lot of harm not only to you but the environment.

Out and About

Firework displays make for a magical evening with fun fair rides, food stalls, sparklers and the fireworks themselves. To make sure you have the most enjoyable night possible bare these things in mind.

At these big events it is often that theft happens. Make sure you’re not a victim of this crime by ensuring your belongings are close to you at all times, don’t leave anything laying around. If possible use a bag with a zip to hold your items. Inside pockets in jackets are also great for keeping your possessions secure. If possible it is always best to leave your valuables at home or in a safe place.

Firework and bonfire events are often very popular and can get busy. Keep your family close and informed of your whereabouts and ensure you have a meeting point in case you get separated. It is often the case at big events for mobile phone networks to go down so having a meeting place is a good idea.

It also helps to leave extra time for your journey to and from the display. Stay safe on and around roads by carrying a torch. Be visible and stay in well lit areas.

First Aid

It is always useful to familiarise yourself with first aid measures in case of an emergency. Click here to visit the British Red Cross’s website for guidance.

 

Reporting Crime

If you see anything suspicious either seek help from a warden or security guard, and in more serious cases, call the police. Do not attempt to deal with crimes yourself. Your safety is first.

Here at Brownhill Insurance Group we wish you the safest of bonfire nights. With all this in mind, don’t forget to enjoy yourselves this time of year!

Tips-For-Pokemon-Go

13 Safety Advice, Etiquette Reminders & Tips for Pokemon Go Players

As the newest craze sweeps the world, we are reading reports each day of players being hit by cars, falling off cliffs, walking onto railway lines, entering mines, even finding dead bodies and being bitten by poisonous snakes. Criminals are also using the ‘Lure‘ action to draw players to a specific location and mugging them for their phones.

You of course want to “catch them all” but as you go off exploring the augmented reality of Pokemon Go you need to remember the dangers of the real world and be respectful of those around you.

Here are our 13 Safety Advice, Etiquette Reminders & Tips for Pokemon Go Players:

  1. Only download the official version by Niantic from Google Play or Apple App Store
  2. Don’t forget that the app’s GPS uses a lot of your phone’s battery and you could find yourself with a dead phone pretty quickly. Although the data uses for the game has been praised at using very little. Perhaps consider buying a battery case or portable battery charger.
  3. Plan your route and take refreshments and a snack; you don’t want to get dehydrated and not be anywhere near a shop.
  4. Always tell someone where you are going.
  5. Think about where you are travelling on your adventures? Are you familiar with your surroundings? Consider staying to streets that you know well when out at night.
  6. Be aware of your surroundings; it is easy to lose your bearings when you are not paying attention.
  7. Take your eyes off your phone whilst crossing roads.
  8. Do not trespass on private property; it is disrespectful and illegal.
  9. Do not venture into unsafe areas such as railway lines or mines; remember that Pokemon characters move to different locations within the game so just wait for it to relocate.
  10. Avoid suspicious or isolated locations, especially if you are on your own.
  11. Be respectful, do not hunt Pokemon in places of worship or grave yards. Use your common sense.
  12. Never play Pokemon Go whilst driving.
  13. Disabling the AR function avoids taking photos of your surrounding during the capture and it makes the Pokemon easier to catch and improves battery life.

Be aware, be safe and have fun!