Dirty chimneys cause fires – keep it swept

As the weather starts to cool down, you might be thinking of lighting your open fire, wood  burning stove or other ‘real flame’ appliance and using your chimney again.  An open fire or stove can be a focal point in your home but if they’re not properly maintained and regularly cleaned they can dramatically increase your risk of having a fire.

Dirty chimneys cause fires – keep it swept

  • Have your chimney and flue inspected and swept at least once a year for coal and twice if you are burning logs.
  • A clean chimney can help prevent fires and structural damage to your property.
  • Regular cleaning of your chimney or flues will eliminate the build up of soot and clear obstructions such as loose bricks, bird or animal nests, leaves and debris.
  • Avoid overloading the grate or build fires too high.
  • Dispose of ash safely and appropriately.
  • Be aware of the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Things you can do:

    • Check for moss or grass growing out of your chimney – it’s a sign it needs repair and if you had a chimney fire, could lead to smoke spread in your property.
    • Does your chimney lean to one side? Or is the top of it missing? Some damage may not be noticeable because it is located inside the chimney. However that damage could allow a chimney fire to spread into the roof or other parts of your home
    • If there are missing or cracked mortar joints or bricks, this is a sign your chimney needs repair. Look out for crumbling mortar falling onto your fireplace or stove.
  • Only burn suitable fuels and don’t overload the grate.
  • Always use a fire guard and if you have pets or young children consider using a safety guard.
  • Make sure that the fire is out before going to bed at night or leaving the house.
  • Do not dry or air clothes on a fireguard or close to the fire.
  • Regularly check for smoke from defective brickwork in the loft when the fire is alight and avoid storing items too close to the chimney stack.
  • Make sure no sparks or fumes can escape through cracks or broken bricks.
  • Never interrupt the air supply by blocking air vents or air bricks.
  • Avoid too much clutter being stored in your loft as this will make it much easier for a chimney fire to spread.
  • Have working smoke alarms fitted on every floor of your home and test them regularly.


Doorstep criminals target residents following Storm Eleanor

Think before you BuyKent county Council Public Protection are warning Kent residents to beware of doorstep criminals. Following storm Eleanor criminals are attempting to convince people into unnecessary or overpriced work.Doorstep criminals may claim your roof tiles are loose,your chimney stack is dangerous or trees need to be felled due to damage.Accepting work from a doorstep criminal can result in paying much more than you intended for very poor, unnecessary and sometimes dangerous work.

If you require work done to your home get at least three quotes and never give a doorstep caller cash.
For a list of Kent County Council approved traders

Help keep your community safe 

Please look out for neighbours and report any suspicious doorstep callers to us.  

Report it

For advice and to report issues to KCC Trading Standards contact Citizens Advice consumer service

Kent County Council Public Protection 04 January 2018


Prepare for flooding

In the third of our posts on preparing for winter we bring information from the Environment Agency on preparing for flooding.

Make a flood plan

Plan how you’ll respond to a flood. Use a template to make a:

Protect your property

You can:

You may need permission to do work that will affect the flow of a river or divert flood water. (more…)

Protecting your property from winter weather

Person clearing snowIn the second of our posts on preparing for winter we bring information from the Met Office ‘Get ready for winter campaign’ on protecting your property from winter weather and storms

There are a number of tasks you can do to prepare your home, garden, or business from the winter weather. Whether it’s strong winds, heavy rain or extreme cold and snow, there’s something you can do to prepare for winter.

Ensure you’re insured

Sometimes no amount of planning and preparation can prevent the weather damaging your property. Buildings insurance offers peace of mind, so ensure your policy is up to date and covers what you need it to. (more…)

Keep warm, keep well

NHS Choices LogoWe will be posting information about preparing for winter over the next few days. In this first post there is information about keeping warm and well from NHS Choices

Cold homes have a significant impact on people’s health. One of the best ways of keeping yourself well during winter is to stay warm.

Keeping warm over the winter months can help prevent colds, flu or more serious health conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression.

The chances of these problems are higher if you’re vulnerable to cold-related illnesses because of one or more of the following:

  • you’re over 65
  • you’re on a low income (so can’t afford heating)
  • you have a long-term health condition, such as heart, lung or kidney disease
  • you are disabled


Open your heart

Kent Fostering “Open your Heart” from Kent County Council on Vimeo.

Open your heart and you could help to transform the lives of children and young people in Kent by becoming a foster carer. Kent County Council are especially looking for carers for:

  • older children – aged 13 to 18
  • siblings
  • disabled children
  • unaccompanied asylum seeking young people

Find out about the benefits, payments and all the great support Kent County Council can provide you.

And if you think you can provide children with the stability and routine they need to flourish and develop then please contact us on 03000 420 002 or request a call back.

Help to shape Ashford homelessness strategy

ABC CrestHomelessness can happen to anyone. Being made homeless or at risk of homelessness can have a detrimental impact on family stability, health and wellbeing, relationships, the development of young children, educational attainment and keeping or accessing employment.

Ashford Borough Council manages homelessness as well as any district or borough in the county and has had very a favourable recent audit of it procedures and processes.

It has put in place a range of proactive measures. (more…)

Water in your garden

Mr Splosh - Water Saving WeekWhy save water in your garden?

Saving water in your garden can save money and energy: Water uses energy to be pumped, heated and treated. Why not try using rainwater instead of your tap water to wash your car, water your plants and other garden/outdoor activities? You’ll save money, energy – and money – if you are on a water meter!

Saving water in your garden can help reduce the risk of flooding in your local area: By collecting rainwater in a water butt to use in your garden, you’re not only saving water but also preventing that water from just sitting on hard surfaces such as tarmac, or running directly across surfaces and back into rivers too quickly – both of which can contribute towards localised flooding.

Saving water can help your garden to thrive: Some plants, for example Acers, prefer to be watered with rainwater anyway so give them what they want – helps your garden thrive and saves water, helping to cut your water and energy bills too! (more…)

Water at Home

Mr Splosh - Water Saving WeekWhy save water in your home?

  • Saving water at home helps reduce the amount of water we use (and waste) and can therefore save money and energy: If we waste less water we are more efficient with our water use – this not only saves water but also money if you’re on a meter through reducing both your water and energy bills. Did you know that just by fixing a dripping tap could save you £18 a year, not to mention 5,500 litres of water? And that heating water in your home for baths, showers and taps can account for up to 25% of your energy bill?
  • Saving water at home now helps us to be prepared and able to cope as water becomes more scarce: The South East and other parts of the UK have less water available per head than in Egypt (it’s also said that London is drier than Istanbul) and this is only expected to become the case for other parts of the UK with the combined effects of climate change and population increases. So, there is an increasing need for us to be more efficient with our water use so we are better prepared for these threats that our water supplies face.