We’re getting to the time of year where older kids are revising for A levels, and looking for universtities and student digs. It’s also the time of year where we start booking up for universities, wanting their halls of residence and university buildings PAT tested over the summer break.
I know Child Safety Week is more about the younger kids, but let’s be honest – no matter how old they are, they’re still your children (and as the old joke goes, they get to choose your nursing home – best make sure you treat them well!)
But how do you keep them safe once they move out? Well, by educating them on the dangers that everyday life contains and by enabling them to spot and minimise risks. Some things are just a case of attention to detail – but that detail can be vital.
First off, the kitchen. Basic food hygiene, a cookbook, and a pair of rubber gloves are good places to start. I’ve been into student kitchens where I didn’t want to touch anything for fear of catching something, where food was being eaten straight off the kitchen side because there were no plates, and where all was sparkling clean and gleaming perfection.
When we walk into a student kitchen, about the only constant is that the back of the microwave will probably be… unpleasant. There’s not just the hygiene factor in student kitchens though – all that grease and dirt can block air intake vents on microwaves and foul connections in kettles and toasters. Teaching your children the importance of good kitchen hygiene, and not just teaching it but living it yourself, can make a massive difference.
Getting your son or daughter to sign up to Register My Appliance so that they are updated on any potential problems with their cooker or microwave can help keep them safe – or register yourself and keep an eye out for updates. Make sure that they know why the washer shouldn’t be left running unattended – or microwaveable popcorn, for that matter.
Make sure your loved ones know how to check and safely use extension leads, and to keep them tucked out of the way during the drunken parties. Drinks spilled on extension leads can at the very least, fry the lead. If it happens to knock out the wireless router as well, somebody is immediately going to find themselves on a “most despised” list.
Make sure games consoles and TVs have ventilation room, and check again that everything is intact. If you can see bare copper, it isn’t safe.
Possibly the most terrifying area of any student digs is the bedroom. Strange things lurk in dark corners – is it a rat? Is it a sock? Or is it the pet mould someone’s been growing for the last four months? Nobody knows, and nobody really wants to touch it and find out.
Some of the things we’ve found in bedrooms in student digs are best left unmentioned, but keeping the bedroom tidy can actually be far more of a safety measure than it may first appear.
For example, if the smoke alarm goes off in the night it’s far easier to navigate a clear floor than one strewn with glasses, bottles, half-eaten takeaways, clothes, miscellaneous wires and plugs for a variety of electronic devices…
Add the ructions that mess and dirt can cause with housemates, and you quickly see why keeping your bedroom tidy is not a bad habit.
The landlord or student housing authority should ensure that the mains electrical system is safe. Some universities and landlords insist that all students must have their equipment PAT tested before it can be used on site, some will do that PAT testing at some point during the year, and others will only PAT test equipment they provide.
Electrical Safety First offer some great guides for students who are renting or in student digs, although this is definitely my favourite.
Source: Student Guide from Electrical Safety First.