Category Archives: Safety

Joggers and cyclists: you must be visible at night!

Cyclist with no lights in the dark

If you like running, walking, jogging or cycling you must make sure that you can be seen at night.  You must have lights on your bicycle, front and back, and you should wear a reflective, high visibility vest or Sam Brown belt.

Last week, Irish Alice and her husband were leaving their house in the car and had just turned onto the main road.  Suddenly Mr Alice swerved across the road several times, narrowly avoiding deep ditches on either side.  A cyclist had appeared round the bend of an unlit country road, dressed in dark clothing and with no lights or reflectors of any kind.  It was a miracle that no-one was hurt and a tribute to Mr Alice’s driving that he kept on the road.

Jogger with no hi-vis clothing in the dark

Similarly, we have had several incidents where we have nearly collided with  people jogging or running down country lanes at night, who have been using headphones so they can’t hear the traffic, but wearing no high visibility clothing.  I nearly ran over a 15 year old boy from Oundle School who ran straight out of a footpath across a busy A road, causing me to swerve and put my car into the ditch.  He didn’t even know it had happened because he had giant earphones on and didn’t hear or see a thing.

In the towns or cities the roads are much better lit, but even there you have to give drivers a fighting chance.  If we hit you, it’s automatically OUR fault even if you are behaving like an idiot.

Living in the Midlands, we get masses of cyclists because the terrain is generally quite flat with hilly bits, which is great for cycling and many of them glow in the daylight, let alone the dark.  But there are always some who think they’re invincible.

In much the same way, there is a proportion of cyclists who believe that traffic lights and The Highway Code in general don’t apply to them.  Then there are the runners who think it’s perfectly alright to run along dark country lanes in the pitch black, with nothing but jogging pants and an iPod Shuffle  to protect them.

Please, please, please make yourselves visible to other road users.

Put lights on the front and back of your bicycles as well as reflectors

Wear a high visibility vest or Sam Brown belt

These things are very cheap and can be bought at your local cycle shops or Halfords or by clicking on the links above.

As the TV ads say, “BE SAFE, BE SEEN”.


Filed under Health and Fitness, Safety

Fire Safety

This is the time of year when people get drunk and do careless things.  Lighting fires, lighting candles and smoking when you’ve had a few can all have catastrophic consequences.  A Fire Officer recently came to give a talk to The Scouts about fire safety and I’m going to pass the information onto you about Fire Drills, Prevention and What to Do if there’s a Fire.


  • Have a Family Fire Drill.  If the normal exit route from the house is blocked by fire, you must rehearse an emergency escape route and make sure everyone knows where it is.   Practice it regularly.
  • Keep calm and speak loudly, clearly and with authority.  This will reassure the others and they will be more likely to behave rationally.
  • An ideal escape route would be through a window that overlooks the porch or an outbuilding that people can climb onto.
  • Do not throw mattresses out of the window to land on.  They are too big and you will block the window and prevent people escaping.
  • The tallest person should climb our first in order to help lift the others down or catch them.
  • Climb out of the window backwards and lower yourself down from your fingers – this way you reduce the distance to jump or fall.
  • Make sure you know where everyone is.  Children sometimes hide in wardrobes or under beds when they’re frightened.
  • Keep door keys where they can be easily found if you need to get out in a hurry – better still have Yale locks or bolts which don’t need keys.
  • Keep a first aid kit in an outbuilding and make sure people know where it is.
  • Contact your local Fire Station for more information.


  • Check your smoke alarms.  A smoke alarm with a dead battery could mean dead people.  Many Fire Services will come and install them for you and do a Fire Safety Check while they’re at it.
  • Always make sure that fires are out before you go to bed or make sure that the doors to the woodburner are firmly closed.  If there are any burning embers, put a fire-guard in front of the grate and wedge it firmly so it can’t topple over.
  • Snuff out all candles and double check that they’re not still glowing.
  • Make sure that cigarettes are completely extinguished, better still, damp the ash tray down with water and empty the contents into the bin.  Do not smoke in bed.
  • Make sure that cooker hobs are switched off before going out or going to bed.
  • Close all internal doors at night to contain or slow the progress of a fire should it start.
  • Keep a fire blanket in the kitchen.


  • Remember that people are more important than things.  Your handbag or wallet are no good to you in the morgue.
  • Wake everyone up and get them to a safe room.  Follow your Family Fire Drill.  If your normal exit route is open, get everyone out through that. 
  • Keep calm and speak loudly, clearly and with authority.  This will reassure the others and they will be more likely to behave rationally.
  • Don’t stop in the house to ring the Fire Brigade if there is any risk.  Wake a neighbour and get them to do it.
  • Tell the Fire Brigade where you are and if anyone is still inside.  If you’re trapped in the house, try to let them know whether you are at the front or the back, which floor and which window they should go through.  This could save time and lives.
  • Smoke can be as dangerous as fire.  Block off doors using blankets, duvets, curtains – anything that could slow the progress of fire or smoke.
  • If you are trapped in a room awaiting rescue, stay on the floor as the air will be clearer for longer.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with anything that comes to hand to protect against smoke inhalation.
  • Do not switch on any lights or plugs as the spark could ignite a fire.

                                             PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN FIRE!


Filed under Family and Friends, Household Hints, Safety

Smoke Alarmed

You don't want one of these landing on your doorstep, now would you?

I can’t even remember what today’s blog was going to be about because I am so tired I can barely speak.  Yesterday was a bit hectic, I’m still in the exhausted stage following last week’s migraine, I had choir practice in the evening and I was trying to get to bed early in preparation for a boomerang drive to London this morning to pick up the Aged Parent.

I returned from choir at 9pm, kissed The Boys fondly and got down to a bit of housework.  As I was tidying the kitchen, I thought “I’d better not leave those chicken bones lying in the pan in water, I’ll give them a bit of a boil before I go up, then finish the stock tomorrow ready for a nourishing soup on Saturday.  I put the pan on the stove, made a milky drink and … retired to bed.  I actually put my light out at 11.30pm, which is early evening for me, smug in the knowledge that I was going to have a long and restorative night’s sleep.

At 1.30am I sat bolt upright with the smell of smoke wafting through my bedroom door.  I hurtled downstairs to find the dining room full of smoke.  I opened the window, ran upstairs and got a wet towel to put over my head and gingerly opened the door to the kitchen, convinced that I would see flames roaring from the cooker.  There were no flames, but the smoke was so thick I couldn’t see anything at all.  I opened all the windows and the back door, soaked another towel in water, grabbed the pan from the stove, and dumped it on the wet track outside the house. 

I have asthma.  Smoke is really not good for me, but I think the wet towel over my nose and mouth saved the day.  It was 3.30am before I got back to bed and then I realised that my bedroom was smoky, so I had to cut a hole in the cling film covering my windows so I could open the windows and let the smoke out.  February is the perfect time for this.

The worst thing was that the smoke alarm did not go off.  It was checked when I moved in, but I haven’t tested it since and this is the point at which I remember that it was nearly a year ago since I moved in.  Check your smoke alarms.  I was incredibly lucky that there wasn’t an actual fire and it is only that I have a very keen sense of smell that I woke up in time to prevent one.

Everything is now cleaned up but the smell of smoke pervades everything.  Boy the Elder went to school in a coat that smelled of smoke and was teased unpleasantly all day because he smelled funny.  No sympathy from a pack of 12 year olds.

Check your smoke alarms.
Don’t start cooking when you’re knackered.
Be vigilant about checking appliances before you go to bed.
Rehearse a fire drill with the family inc assembly points and escape routes.

And one more thing – check your smoke alarms.


Filed under Household Hints, Safety