In an Emergency….

Often emergencies in schools do happen. These may not be serious emergencies, but an emergency is an emergency! There are several different types of emergencies, from First Aid, fires, Utility emergencies, Lift emergencies, Security emergencies etc.

In an emergency, it is important to stay calm. A Pupil will always turn to the first member of staff he or she can find. This could be a Teacher, Care Staff, a Volunteer or even you, as a Caretaker. Keeping a cool head and remaining calm is important, no matter what the emergency is. It is also good to make sure that you know your School Emergency Procedures is important so you can assist as best you can.

One of the most important skills is First Aid. This can be lifesaving in the event of an emergency and is a skill that is universal and can be used at any time. I have First Aid at Work, (Which is a comprehensive First Aid Qualification, covering most First Aid situations. I am also AED Trained, which means I can use a Defibrillator, in the event of a Cardiac Arrest. I have never had to use an AED in a real situation, but you never know. On top of this, I am Mental Health First Aid Trained, to help people who are in Mental Health Crisis.

You may have other qualifications and skills, which can be handy in an emergency. For instance, are you able to use BSL, to communicate with someone that is hard of hearing? Or can you speak a 2nd language? (which may be helpful)

The first thing I do is use the AMEC Protocol. This stands for Assess, Make Safe, Evacuate the immediate area and Call For Help. So lets look at this in more detail.

Assess the Situation

The first thing to do is assess the emergency. What has happened?, How many people are involved? What’s the risk to life, the safety of others and what immediate action needs to be taken to mitigate the situation?

Make Safe

The situation may require making safe, to protect yourself and others. Such instances may include:

  • Sounding the Fire Alarm to alert others to a fire
  • Moving Staff, Visitors and Young People away from the emergency
  • Switching off a Utility, such as the power, the water or the gas
  • Extinguish a fire (if safe to do so) using a fire extinguisher.
  • In the event of a Swimming Pool emergency, giving 3 sharp blows on a whistle, to signal swimmers to move to the side of the pool
  • On equipment, operate the Red Emergency Stop Plunger

Evacuate the Immediate Area

Evacuating may be needed, if the emergency is serious and there is risk to life. This may mean moving people to another part of the building or to an Assembly Point outside, as appropriate. You should do this calmly and using a raised voice, use something along the lines of:

“May I have your attention please, I need you to quickly, calmly and quietly leave the building, via the nearest exit and proceed to the playground. Please do not stop for belongings. If you need assistance with leaving the building, please contact the nearest member of staff.”

When evacuating, the whole building, it is common practice to activate the Fire Alarm, by breaking the glass on the nearest Red Call Point. If needed, you should also operate the Emergency Egress Device, (Emergency Door Release) by breaking the glass.

Call for Help

You are going to need assistance in an emergency, so calling for help is something that needs to be done as soon as possible. Not only are you going to need the Emergency Services, you are also going to need help from colleagues. In my school, I do this, by placing an emergency call on my Radio, using the following example message:

“Sam to all, radios, this is an emergency message. Ambulance and First Aiders required in the Library, Room 23 B Block. Unconscious Young Person, ID unknown, no obvious injuries, the casualty is breathing and has a pulse. Over.” However, sometimes you will have to phone, instead of using a radio, so in this situation, it’s best to dial 999 before calling your school, to report the incident.

When assistance comes, handover as much information as you can. (What has happened, what you have done to make the situation safe, how many people are involved, if there are injuries etc.) The more information you can give to the Emergency Services and other colleagues, will make dealing with the emergency easier and will be a great help.

REMEMBER: Keep calm, remain professional and use your judgement wisely!

Below are some handy numbers, you may need in an emergency: (This list is not comprohensive)

  • Emergency Services – Police, Ambulance Fire: 999
  • British Transport Police: 61006
  • Police Non Emergency: 101
  • NHS 111: Call 111
  • Power Cuts \ National Grid Emergencies: 105
  • Local Council: Find your local Council here
  • Gas Emergency: 0800 111999
  • RSPCA: 0300 1234 999
  • BT: 0800 800151

Compassionate, Honest and Unconditional Care

Last night, we had an emergency placement, of a ten year old lad called Max. I cannot go into the reason Max has been taken into care, but he has been placed with us for the time being. Sam and I are specialist Foster Carers and are the only Fostering Placement in the area, which deals with Trauma. Trauma can include, but is not limited to:

  • Abuse or neglect
  • Witnessing a traumatic event, such as a car accident or the sudden death of a loved one
  • Exposure to violence, alcohol misuse and drugs
  • Being made to do things that the child does not want to do

There are not enough Foster Families who can support kids with these issues and placements are very far and few between. As I say, I cannot go into the reasons why Max is in care, but I will say that he was put in a Children’s Home, which was inappropriate for his needs. This placement broke down and we had a call at Teatime, as he needed to be placed with us.

Everything was fine until 1am , when Sam and I heard a scream. Normally we can tell who is screaming, by the sound. However, this time, we couldn’t tell. So it meant going in and checking on each of the boys. We finally found out it was Max and I took him downstairs, made him a hot chocolate and reassured and calmed him down and talked to him about his nightmare.

With the types of placements we have, you have to have a lot of patience and understanding. You also need to be a good listener and be non judgemental. Sometimes, kids find trusting adults difficult, especially if they have been mistreated. I can speak from experience, as we have had many kids come through our door, with trust issues. We have also had kids who are afraid of the bath, due to fear of drowning and also several kids who cannot sleep without the light on.

We have to make special adjustments for kids like this, so that we can make sure they safe and that their wellbeing is always at the heart of what we do. Their safety is always top priority and that is why we have CCTV, Security Doors, monitored alarms etc. I think that the kids do not see the house as a “prison”, more like somewhere extremely safe, where they can get back to what is important – being a child and enjoying childhood.

On top of this, we strive to support kids placed with us as best we can and we will never turn away a child in need. (nor will we ever give up on a child in our care) These kids often are broken, have been failed and need lots of love, support, a listening ear and not fear judgement. That is what the kids we look after get, 24 hours a day. Sam, Jenny and I do not mind being woken up in the middle of the night, by one of the boys and they are encouraged to come and knock on the door, if they can’t sleep, are not well or need to talk. We’re always happy to have a chat about what ever is bothering them. Sadly, (in the middle of the night) a lot of Foster Carers will talk to the child in question and then send them back to bed 10 mins later, with the problem half fixed. This is where we make a “positive difference,” because no matter what time it is, we will make the time to listen and support our kids, with open, honest and unconditional love.

Max was OK after he sat with me for 2 hours last night. It took some time to calm him down and to talk about how he was feeling. Thankfully, by 5am, we had managed to get him settled and back to bed. He is looking forward to going on holiday next week to Skegness with Sam, myself, Jenny, Sam’s mum Linda and the other boys. Max has never been on holiday before, so it is a bit daunting for him. However, he can’t wait, after finding out what’s on offer!

Max will be Ok, he just needs stability and the correct level of support and that is what he will get, while he is with us.

A Guide to Lockout Tagout

What is Lockout Tagout?

Lockout tagout (LOTO) is a safety procedure that ensures that dangerous machinery and energy sources are properly shut off and are not started up unexpectedly while maintenance or service work is being completed. Activating the equipment or power source before these tasks are complete puts the person maintaining or servicing it at risk.

Why do we use Lockout Tagout?

If lockout tagout practices are not observed employees can be seriously injured or killed by the machinery or equipment they are working on or around. Such machinery includes, but isn’t limited to:

  • Generators
  • Lift Machinery
  • Switch Gear,
  • Distribution Cabinets
  • Devices such as compactors, which use hydraulics.
  • Swimming Pool Plant Equipment

Not all the above will apply to your school, but as I mentioned before, the above list is not comprehensive.

What is a Lockout Tagout Kit and How do I Use It?

Why carwashes must follow lockout and tagout procedures | Professional  Carwashing & Detailing
A typical Lockout Tagout Device

Lockout tagout kits are bundles of lockout tagout devices that can be used for multiple different lockout tagout procedures.  Usually they contain things like tags, padlocks, and other devices that help prevent injury or death, by energised or mechanical equipment.

Typically, a Lockout Tagout Kit, comprises of a device, with clips that prevent a switch from being operated. This works, by clipping the jaws together, through the hole on the switch itself. Then a padlock is connected to the base of the device, to prevent the switch from being operated. Finally, the tag warns others, that the device must not be used and also states who is authorised to remove the lock and the tag.

To summarize, Lockout Tagout is a device which can save lives and prevent injury and death, by locking out electrical and mechanical equipment, while maintenance is carried out. Never remove or cut off a lock, unless you are the person authorised to do so. If you are unsure, ask!

A Guide to Lift Emergencies

Many Schools have lifts these days and it is important that the lifts are regularly serviced and inspected, to prevent mechanical breakdown and to prolong the life of your lift. In my school, we have 4 passenger lifts and a larger Service Lift. There lifts are in various parts of the building and allow disabled people to access other floors in the building.

But what if the lift breaks down suddenly? All lifts these days, have alarms to call for help. Pressing the red alarm button in our lifts, connects the user to Switchboard during the day and the Sick Bay Nurses Station out of hours. Staff can then speak to the passengers and find out what the problem is. Normally, a lift breakdown is caused by a unplanned engagement of the emergency brake. This emergency break system, also prevents the lift from free-falling down the shaft and is controlled by a device called the Governor. The Governor uses. centrifugal force and moves a flyweights outward, pushing against a set of springs.  When spinning in this position, the hooked ends of the flyweights catch hold of ratchets mounted to a stationary cylinder surrounding the sheave. This works to stop the governor.

The governor cables are connected to the lift car via a movable actuator arm attached to a lever linkage. When the governor cables can move freely, the arm stays in the same position relative to the elevator car (it is held in place by tension springs). But when the governor sheave locks itself, the governor cables jerk the actuator arm up. This moves the lever linkage, which operates the brakes.

In addition, lifts have have electromagnetic brakes that engage when the car comes to a stop. The electromagnets actually keep the brakes in the open position, instead of closing them. With this design, the brakes will automatically clamp shut if the elevator loses power. Also, in the unlikely situation that a passenger forced the car doors open, the electromagnetic breaks would clamp shut, against the running rails either side of the lift and bring it to a halt. Elevators also have automatic braking systems near the top and the bottom of the elevator shaft. If the elevator car moves too far in either direction, the brake brings it to a stop.

If all else fails, and the elevator does fall down the shaft, there is one final safety measure that will probably save the passengers. The bottom of the shaft has a heavy-duty shock absorber system — typically a piston mounted in an oil-filled cylinder. The shock absorber works like a giant cushion to soften the elevator car’s landing.

Anyway, that’s enough of the safety systems and how they work. Lets look at an emergency situation, where the lift is trapped between floors. In this scenario, the lift has developed a fault and is stuck between the 12st and ground floor of J Block.. The passenger presses the lift alarm for 5 seconds, which telephones Switchboard or Sick Bay. Sick bay or Switchboard will either radio me, if I am on site, or phone me if off site. If there is a medical emergency or if the passenger is extremely distressed, Switchboard \ Sick Bay will call the Fire Brigade to rescue the passenger and inform me of this.

The 1st job I will do, is to get the shaft key and open the doors on the ground floor and look up, to see whee the lift is stuck. I will then try to speak to the person stuck in the lift and tell them that I am here and that we will lower the lift shortly. I then will slide the shaft doors shut and lock with the shaft key. Now, I need to walk up 5 flights of stairs, to walk 5 flights of stairs to the locked roof access door, (Or take the Service Lift to the 4th floor, and walk the remaining 1 flight.) Once on the roof, I can access the locked Lift Plant Room. You’re first priority is safety and due to this, you need to switch off the lift machinery, via the main Isolator Switch. It is important that you also “Lock out, Tag out” the switch, to ensure that the power is not switched back on accidently. I am going to do another guide on this, in due course.

If you have the correct training in lift lowering, please continue reading this section. If not, please skip to the next section.

First, we need to pull the lever on the wheel that the main lift cables are connected to. This will release the brakes on the lift car. Don’t worry, the Governor will stop the lift from falling! On the same wheel, pull out the handle, which is connected to the motor. You will need to slowly wind this handle anti-clockwise. It will be heavy, due to the weight of the lift, so wind slowly and the lift will move safely and easily. Keep winding until you reach the bottom of the shaft. Also remember to re-engage the brakes!

Now go back downstairs and open the doors to the lift shaft. The lift should now be in the right position and you should be able to prise the doors to the lift car open. If the lift is not in line with the floor, you should help the passenger to “alight” the lift. The person who has been stuck in the lift, may be shaken up a little. So, a friendly hug of reassurance might be needed.

Now you need to lock the shaft doors shut and place a “out of order” sign on the door.

Once the lift engineer has been and fixed the problem, remove the Lockout Tag Out device and switch the power back on to the lift. Don’t forget to write an incident report and file it correctly, depending on the procedures, set out by your School or Local Authority.

Testing Your Lift

Every day, I inspect our lifts, checking the doors open and close properly, that the alarm sounds outside the lifts, the selective floor control operates. (This needs a key to do this) the lights work and the fan is running. The kift will be taken out if use, anything is at fault (use the selective Floor Controls to do this) and an engineer called.

Remember: Safety First!

  • Lifts are dangerous, only attempt a lift rescue if you have had proper training of lowering a lift.
  • Always switch off the power to the lift and use Lockout Tagout, to prevent the power accidently being switched back on.
  • The lights, fan and alarm all have a battery backup on the roof of the lift car, so the lift won’t plunge into darkness!
  • Take care not to fall into the lift shaft, when looking up from the open doors!
  • Do not tell the passenger to force the car doors open. This could lead to injury or death and could also damage the lift car!
  • If you are unsure how to proceed, call a qualified Lift Engineer!
  • If the passenger is extremely distressed, dial 999 and ask for the Fire Brigade

It’s one of those nights!

Tonight’s shift isn’t going well. We have Boarders keep getting out of bed and saying it is too hot. We have windows open and fans are in limited supply. For our unit, we only have 3 fans for 15 boarders! There are other fans, but they have been assigned to other units, who are probably having the same problem as we are; here on Jets.

All I can really advise the kids to do, is to fold back the duvet and sleep without it over them. Also I am advising that they do not wear a PJ Top in bed, to help keep them cool and if they need a cold drink, to grab a glass of squash, which is on a trolley, near to the Staff Base. (Jugs of Orange and also Blackcurrant Squash is on offer, plus a jug of plain water.)

I have also advised boarders to take showers instead of baths. (Off the washroom, there are 2 bathrooms, with shower and bath facilities.) I have been onto Amazon and bought a few more fans, which run on USB. The cost of these will come out of our Unit’s budget, but it’s worth it, as they run on USB and it means each boarder can have a fan in their rooms. Also, the sockets in the bedrooms, have USB ports. So we can just plug them in; just like that.

Hopefully soon, this lot will quieten down and hopefully we won’t have boarders, getting out of bed and complaining about the heat, or pressing the call buzzer, in their rooms. Apart from the heat, my shift is going quite well. I have done log books, sorted pocket money for tomorrow, (Pocket Money is always handed our on a Saturday) and I have cleaned the unit fish tank.

I’m on Waking Night again tomorrow, covering for a colleague who is ill. I enjoy my job and spending time with the boarders. Night Shift is long and it it can be busy at times. Whether I am dealing with a pupil whose been sick, to boarders who have had a nightmare or are homesick, to those boarders who generally disrupt things, I take it all in my stride and be like Mary Poppins! (Firm but fair) The boarders affectionately know me as their “Care Bear) because I’m a larger kinda guy, who quite hairy, plus I genuinely, do care about each and every boarder. I make time for each and everyone of them and I think that is why the boarders love me so much. Plus, I am not like some Heads of Care, who only work Monday to Friday. I am at school on the units or in my office, 7 days a week. Plus I am always at the other end of the phone.

Anyway, enough of my waffling, I got laundry to do. On weekends, our Laundry Staff do not work, so the Unit staff have to do it, but I don’t mind!

Goodnight folks, sleep well x

PS: We do have Air Conditioning, the Office, Lounge and by Staff Base, all have Air Conditioners. If I could, I’d have every bedroom air conditioned, but it costs too much, so I doubt that will happen.

Football is Coming Home!!!!

Yesterday, the atmosphere at school was electric; as we cheered on England, as they played Denmark last night. Sam and I organised a BBQ for the Boarders on all units and we got the bouncy castles out from storage. We put up gazebos, (3 of them our ours) I had a gazebo with Sam’s Disco Kit and played music through it. Of course, we had to play Football’s Coming Home (Southgate you’re the one) 3 Lions, Vindaloo, and Meat Pie Sausage Roll (Come on England give us a goal) Course, I had the kids and staff singing along.

So at 8pm and we all went to the Sports Hall to watch the match. We could not believe it when Denmark scored, as we all thought England were finished. Then we scored, making us level with the Danes. it was a nerve wracking match, which had us all on the edges of our seats.

Finally England scored again in extra time and the whole sports hall erupted! I think it was that loud, that the cheer probably could be heard from the carpark! The kids went mental, the staff went mental and Sam and I went mental! This is the 1st time that England got to the finals of the Euros \ World Cup and we have the chance to really bring football home, next week. Hopefully England will win. Imagine that, I think the whole country will erupt if that happens!

I ended up helping to get boarders off to bed and then helped Sam clean up the sports hall after. I didn’t get home until 11:45 last night and was knackered. I am on Care this afternoon and am working on the Jets Unit, on a late shift.

Time to disappear for Handover, so enjoy the sun and keep them fingers crossed for England!

A Guide to Cleaning School Toilets Part 2: (Changing Places Toilets)

What is a Changing Places Toilet?

A Changing Places Toilet, (or also known as a “Hygiene Room”) is a special toilet for completing hygiene tasks for those disabled people who cannot use a regular disabled toilet. These toilets have hoists, a changing table, a perinuclear toilet and other specialist equipment for disabled people. You know, going back 20 years, when I was in my last year at school, we had a Disabled Toilet, but it was far from the standards we see today.

So, Changing Places Toilets are important in schools, as regardless of if you are a Primary School, Secondary School or Special School, having clean facilities is important, especially if you are helping someone with their toileting needs. We have 2 Changes Places Toilets. We have one in B Block and one in Sick Bay on the 3rd floor of J Block. We’re having a 3rd installed in D Block, replacing the Disabled Changing Room for a Changing Places Toilet.

So, we have followed the procedure from my last tutorial, so what do we still have to do? While high dusting, clean the track for the hoist and make sure the hoist moves and can go up and down correctly. Also, lower the hoist and make sure to properly disinfect the entire hoist arm and the hoist hooks. I also clean the part of the hoist that raises and lowers a pupil and is why I always need my steps, when cleaning a Changing Places Toilet.

Then there is the changing table, This isn’t too hard to clean. I spray all surfaces with anti-bac and then wipe clean. While I am there, I also check the paper roll for the changing table and restock the dispensers with gloves and aprons, as needed.

We have toilets in our Hygiene Rooms, which wash and dry a user, so we have to be really careful when cleaning, due to how the toilet works. I usually spray anti-bac onto a cloth and wipe thoroughly. While I am here, I always test the alarm, by yanking the red cord and then reset it. Also, I make sure the red cord has not been tied up or is out of reach.

We have Clinical Waste Bins in our Hygiene Rooms and so they need special disposal. (They cannot go in the normal bin) So I change the bag, spray and wipe the inside and outside of the bin and take the clinical waste bag to the clinical waste bins in J Block. (We have a refuse Room on J Block, as we have a rubbish chute for normal rubbish and clinical waste on each floor. The normal rubbish goes into a big commercial bin, while the clinical waste goes into it’s own separate bin.

Once the floor is washed, soap and paper checked and the sink, hand dryer and soap dispensers are disinfected, that’s job done! Don’t forget to put a wet floor sign up before you leave!

A Guide to Cleaning School Toilets Part 1

Your School Toilets are an important part of your school. So, it is important that we keep our toilets clean and that, is what this guide will help you do.

Prep your Cleaning Cart

  • Bottles Antibacterial Spray for all surfaces
  • Bottles of Toilet Cleaner \ Maintainer
  • Urinal Cakes
  • Bin Bags
  • Paper Towels
  • Soap Refills
  • Toilet Rolls
  • Air Freshener Refills
  • Female Products (Where available)
  • Red Rubber Gloves or disposables
  • Eye Goggles
  • Red Microfibre Cloths
  • Duster On a Pole
  • Blue Paper Roll
  • Wet Floor Sign
  • Red Mop and Bucket, filled with disinfectant
  • Red handled broom or static mop
  • Red Dustpan and Brush
  • Toilet Brush
  • Door Stop

Check the Toilets are Empty

Our 1st job, is to check that the toilet is not occupied. Slightly open the door and clearly announce your presence. “Hello it’s Mr Smith, is anyone in here?” I usually do this twice. Next, prop the door open, using the door stop. Now place a wet floor sign over the doorway. If anyone enters the toilet, explain your cleaning the toilets and direct them to the next nearest facilities.

Spray… Spray… Spray!

Next, get your bottle of antibac and give all surfaces a good spray. This includes the toilet itself, all cubicles, the sinks, mirrors, towel dispensers, hand dryers (where fitted) vanity tops, (where fitted) door frames, bins, urinals, and dispensers etc. Next is litter picking, while we leave the chemicals to cure.

Pick up any litter, such as drinks bottles, paper towels, loo paper etc and put that into the bin in the toilet. Next, empty the bin and replace the liner, remembering to give the inside of the bin a wipe with your microfibre cloth and spray bottle. Now give the floor a good sweep, either with your broom or the static mop. Work from the furthest point from the door and work backward. Use the dustpan and brush to remove the swept dust from the floor and dispose of it in the bin bag on the back of your trolley. Now replace all the consumables. – Toilet rolls, paper towels, female hygiene products, soap, air freshener refills etc. Also, if you notice anything broken or not working, now is the time to jot it down.

High Dusting – Getting Rid of Dust From Above!

High dusting is important, as lots of dust gathers on surfaces, such as window sills, the tops of cubicles and in extractor fans. For this, I use my duster on a pole. This saves me time, as I do not need to get up on a step ladder to high dust. Make sure any cobwebs are also removed from pipework and round the ceiling.

I also high dust the Urinal Tank and pipes, while I am at it. Next, make sure to wipe down the cubical walls, frames and doors, using your micropore cloth. If your cloth gets dirty, put it back on your trolley and grab a new one. I keep a nappy sack for my dirty cloths, so I don’t cross contaminate.

Clean the Toilets \ Urinals

Now wipe the exterior of the toilet. Pay attention to the base of the bowl, around the drain pipe, the cistern and flush handle, the seat. (on both sides), The porcelain top, outer rim, seat hinges and of course the drain collar. Sometimes, this needs extra antibac spray, so feel free to spray again, as you wipe.

For the inside of the bowl, use a loo brush to push as much water out the pan as you can. Now clean inside the bowl, using toilet cleaner. I usually let the toilet cleaner soak for a few mins, so we shall come back to that shortly. (Don’t forget to leave the loo seat up!)

Give the Urinals a good scrub too, with toilet cleaner and the toilet brush. Pay attention to the base of the flush nozzle and the drain. If there are any bits of debris, (Especially around the drain) get those out by hand, (making sure you wear gloves, while doing so) and don’t forget to replace the urinal deodorizer \ urinal screen, (If appropriate) while you are at it.

If a toilet is blocked, attack it with your plunger! Get a good seal around drain on the inside and give it a good push, to dislodge the blockage. If that is not possible, report it, lock the cubical \ toilet out of use and place a out of order sign on the door. Make sure that you report the blockage as soon as possible. The same goes for sinks and urinals too.

Cleaning the Sink, Mirrors and Tiles.

Spray antibac onto a microfibre cloth and give the entire sink a good going over, paying special attention to the taps, the overflow and the outlet. Next, clean the vanity top and the tiles the same way. For the mirror, spray glass cleaner onto the surface and use a blue paper towel to wipe downwards. This will give you a smear free finish.

Back to the Toilets and the metal monstrosities we call the “Trough Urinals!”

Now that the toilet cleaner has soaked for a bit, get your loo brush and give the toilet a good scrub, paying special attention to the waterline and under the rim. Once cleaned, give the toilet a flush and lower the seat. Don’t forget to disinfect the outside of Sanitary Bins while you are at it!

Give the floor a good moppin’

Wash the floor, using a mop and bucket, working from the far corner, working in a figure of 8 pattern. When it comes to the cubicle, make sure that sanitary bins are moved , as you mop. Also move the litter bin, so you can mop underneath it.

Check your work

Check that everything is ship shape and go back to fix any issues. Now remove any cleaning items used. Leave the wet floor sign in situ, until the floor is dry and return your trolley to your cleaning store.

In Part 2, we will look at cleaning a Hygiene Room, also known as as a Changing Places Toilet. These facilities need a higher level of cleaning, which we will go into next time.

A Guide to Electrical Safety

Electrical Safety is as important in the home, as in the workplace.Regardless if we are an employer, a employee or a householder, we all have a duty to respect electricity and use it safely. In this guide, we will look at how we can use electricity safely and the steps we need to take.

I am writing this post, after a dangerous cable, which had partially melted, knocked the power out on the 3rd and 4th floors of J Block.

First, Lets Talk About Pylons, Substations and Railways.

Tall electricity Pylons can be very dangerous, as they carry thousands and thousands of of volts of electricity and is enough to instantly kill you. This is why you should never attempt to climb a pylon or fly a kite or model plane (inc. drones) near them. If you see someone trying to climb a pylon, you must phone the Police, by dialling 999, Followed by Electricity Emergency on 105 immediately.

Substations are also just as dangerous. They may carry less voltage, but still can kill you or seriously injure you, due to the voltage and magnetic fields, caused by the incoming and outgoing power, as it is stepped up and down. Some Substations are in yards, like the one behind the School Laundry. These usually have high fences and also have large Danger of Death signs on them. (For good reason) Others may be in a building or enclosed in a room inside a building. An example of this, is the substation that transforms the power from our Generators, to a safe voltage and are located next to the Generator Plant Room in the Basement of D Block. These Substations are also kept locked and only the Electricity Board have keys.

Railways use either 750v DC 3rd Rail, 25kv AC Overhead, (25,000 Volts) or 750v DC 4th Rail. Each type of power feed can cause life changing injuries or can cause instant death. It is illegal to trespass on Railway land and it is extremely dangerous to touch the conductor rails or the overhead lines.

Safety of Electrical Equipment at Home and At Work.

Equipment at work, that is plugged into the mains, should have a Portable Appliance Test (PAT) once a year. This checks the connections to the plug and ensures that the appliance is safe to use. Some appliances may fail, due to old wiring, damage to the plug or earth leakage.

Testing of equipment at home is not a legal requirement, but you should check that sockets are not overloaded and that the plugs and sockets are checked regularly. This also applies in the workplace. If you need to use an extension lead, DO NOT OVERLOAD IT! If you are using en extension lead on a drum, make sure that it has been completely unwound and is not looped, or it may get very hot. Never use paperclips as substitute to fuses, as it can cause the fuse holder to overheat and combust!

In the home and at work, it is important to check cabling, sockets and switches regularly. Look for signs of cracked \ frayed cabling, cracked sockets \ switches, switches and sockets that are hot to touch, Burnt or scorched, electrical fittings that are loose or badly connected etc. Any signs of the above should be dealt with, by taking the socket \ switch \ appliance out of use and a electrician called to remedy the fault.

Electrical Safety When Out and About

If you are out and about and see a faulty lamp post, or a traffic lights that are not working properly, report the issue to your local Council. However, if the fault poses a danger to the general public, such as a sparking lamp post, call the Emergency Services on 999.

If you see a pit, where men have been working to replace cable in the ground, don’t be a pratt and jump down to have a look! There is the possibility that a live cable may of been left exposed and that the cable may be a higher voltage than 240 volts. The higher the voltage, the higher the risk of you receiving an injury or even death!

If you see a downed cable, do not go near it, keep everyone clear and call the emergency services. Dial 999.

If we respect electricity and we use it for it’s correct purpose, it will respect us. If we do not respect electricity, it can lead to death injury or even fire!

J Block Power has Been Restored!

Finally, the power issues in J Block have been fixed. The problem was a faulty cable, which was a little more complex than we thought. Unfortunately, we needed to switch off the supply to the 2nd floor, before the Electricians could replace the cable. This caused us some chaos, as Foxes and the Oaks and Acorns unit, as we had to shut the power off, so that a new cable could be fed from the 3rd floor Distribution Cabinet to the 2nd floor.

We sadly had to wait until after 10pm, to schedule a window to turn off the 2nd floor power. Thankfully, by 10, the kids were in bed and staff were able to work by torch light, while we replaced the cable. As you can see, the cable is damaged and is a fire risk and so, it had to be replaced ASAP.

Thankfully, the circuit breaker on the 2nd floor tripped, preventing power energising the damaged cable. The Electricians were able to drop a new piece of cable down the conduit and connect that to the 2nd floor distribution panel. So, I’ve just got home, after dealing with the work that needed doing and returning the battery lights back to my store room on the Lower Ground Floor. I am exhausted, Kyle is already in bed, so I think I shall join him. Goodnight all 🙂

By the way, I think my next Guide will be covering Electrical Safety and that will be posted over the weekend.