A helping hand from BlueWatch
In the autumn of 2017, CFOA BlueWatch donated 1,000 Fire Angel cold detectors to Foundations and FILT. We then distributed the alarms to a number of community organisations across the north west of England:
- 500 to Care Network – Blackburn – an independent HIA serving the local authority areas of Blackburn and Darwen;
- 200 to Asby Parish – Cumbria – parish council / church group serving a population of approximately 200 dwellings in a remote, rural area of Cumbria;
- 300 to Bolton Money Skills service – Bolton – a council-funded financial advice service, including energy efficiency advice.
This is what the organisations reported back to us:
Cold detectors were delivered to Care Network in September/October 2017 and have been distributed by the HIA as and when client-support officers encountered clients who may benefit from cold detectors. Typically, older, vulnerable groups, people with respiratory conditions or homes with very young children. Although the distribution of the cold detectors was successful, the view was expressed by the HIA that the availability of CO detectors would have been a valuable addition, as a large number of properties encountered did not have these detectors installed.
Working with Asby Parish and St Peter’s Church, 200 cold detectors were made available and advertisements went into the local parish magazine and messaging services, to warn of the dangers of excess cold, and advise that the detectors were free of charge. The availability of an optional home assessment using a Bluewatch/CFOA assessment form was also made available.
The parish’s stated aim was to ensure that every single dwelling in the parish would have a cold detector in place, and by the end of November 2017 100% of the detectors had been distributed.
Asby is a remote rural community, with no mains gas provision. During the severe weather encountered in the winter of 2017/18, the parish was effectively cut-off for three days due to severe snowfall and drifts. Feedback from the residents concerning the cold detectors was extremely positive, with a number of residents stating that it had helped them prepare for the onset of cold weather effectively:
“I could move the detector from room to room and it showed just how dangerously cold some rooms had become! Our study was at a dangerous level, and I needed to turn the heating up quite a bit just to get it to a safe level. My husband spends a lot of time in the study, and he’s not in good health. The room has old single-glazed windows and I need to get them updated for next year!”
“I was surprised at how clear the instructions were for the alarms, and they’ve got a ten-year battery life. It’ll probably out-last me!”
The distribution of detectors in Asby was significant, as they were all in place before the onset of some of the most severe weather in thirty years. Many residents of the parish are over 60 years, and being in a conservation area / national park, many properties are over 300 years old and single-glazed, as such not as thermally efficient as modern dwellings. Happily there were no reports of cold-related health issues from the residents of Asby, despite the arctic temperatures, and the cold alarms may have contributed to this in some way.