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Safety in your home

Last updated on: 15-Feb-2021

5. Water hygiene

Information about the risks of contracting Legionnaires' disease and some tips on how to prevent it.

What is Legionnaires' disease?

Legionnaires' Disease is a pneumonia-like illness caused by the Legionella bacteria and can be fatal. The infection is caused by breathing in small droplets of water contaminated by the bacteria. The disease cannot be passed from one person to another.

Legionella bacteria are found in the natural environment and may contaminate and grow in water systems, including domestic hot and cold water systems. They survive low temperatures and thrive at temperatures between 20 - 45°C if the conditions are right. They are killed by high temperatures at 60°C or above.

Am I at risk?

Anyone can get Legionnaires’ disease, but it most commonly affects the elderly, or people with chest, lung or other serious health problems. Not everyone exposed to Legionella bacteria will become ill. It is not contagious and you can’t get it from drinking water.

The symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease are similar to those of flu:

  • high temperature
  • fever or chills
  • headache
  • tiredness
  • muscle pain
  • dry cough

What to do if you think you may have Legionnaires' disease

If you think that you or someone in your home has Legionnaires’ disease, contact your doctor immediately.

You should also contact us so that we can take the appropriate action to make sure you are safe in your home.

How do we reduce the risk of Legionella in your home

As your landlord, we are legally obliged to check for Legionella in some of our buildings, as part of regular checks to ensure water systems are clean and safe to use.

  • Carry out regular risk assessments to identify the level of risk and implement a suitable maintenance and monitoring regime on all shared water systems.
  • Regularly collate and monitor temperature readings, carry out sampling and disinfection treatment.
  • Ensure risk assessors and water management contractors are experienced and accredited having specialist knowledge on Legionella and water treatment services.
  • Identify, improve and upgrade water systems in order to remove or reduce the risk of Legionella bacteria developing.
  • Provide health and safety advice to all our tenants and leaseholders on how to reduce the risk with good housekeeping.

What you can do to reduce the risk

The biggest risk is if your home has been empty for more than one week without running water and these simple steps can reduce that risk:

  • Run the taps for at least three minutes
  • Hold the shower head over the drain, to reduce the risk of inhaling water droplets and run the water for a few minutes
  • Flush the toilet twice with the lid down.

Other tips to reduce risk:

  • Keep all shower-heads and taps clean and free from build-up of lime scale, mould or algae growth.
  • Regular cleaning with bleach or an anti-bacterial cleanser every three months will help sterilise and kill any bacteria.
  • Report any rust or any unusual matter flowing from your water outlets to us or your local water authority.
  • Heat the water in your hot water tank and use it immediately at least two to three times a week.
  • Hot water should be stored at a temperature of 60°C or greater (immersion tanks etc.).
  • Drain hosepipes after use and keep out of direct sunlight. Flush through for a couple of minutes before filling paddling pools etc.
  • Hot Tubs and Spa Pools bring a heightened risk of Legionella bacteria and manufacturer’s advice on maintenance and cleaning should always be followed.
  • Ensure that you turn on taps (including any in your garden) each week for at least two minutes.
  • Raising the temperature of warm water is one way to control Legionella growth, but could also increase the risk of burns and scalding. Please take care especially if you have children.

Report a problem

You should inform us if you suspect Legionella bacteria, so that we can take the appropriate action to make sure you are safe in your home. To do so please report urgent repairs

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