With the holiday season now in full swing we’re sure you’re all either packing your bags to be on your way or booking your trips. It’s unlikely that making sure your accommodation’s air conditioning is safe and working is top of your list.
However, after the news that six month old Elizabeth Soffe suffered burns in a fire in Dubai, that was thought to be caused by an air conditioner, it’s worth making sure you and your family are completely safe.
Of course, you probably encounter air conditioning every day and never come to any harm. This will most likely be the case indefinitely but there are a few simple checks you can carry out to be sure of holiday air conditioning safety. Below is a list of inspections and actions you can carry out on any air conditioning unit you encounter, holiday or otherwise, to help you minimise the risk to your safety.
Tips For Holiday Air Conditioning Safety
Check all visible wiring for any exposed or worn sections – “In 2010, air conditioning, fans or related equipment were involved in an estimated 7,400 reported U.S. home structure fires, with associated losses of 29 civilian deaths, 249 civilian injuries and $207 million in direct property damage. The number of these fires has varied up and down with no clear trend.”
These figures from the National Fire Protection Service speak for themselves. It is clear that air conditioners, just like any other electrical equipment, can be a fire risk if improperly maintained. When you first encounter your holiday air conditioning unit check all visible wiring for any damaged areas. Also ensure it is properly plugged into an appropriate plug. It’s also preferable that the system isn’t plugged into an extension lead.
Check for any leaks – If, after running the unit, water starts to drip into the room you are cooling switch it off. Condensation is a natural byproduct of the cooling process but it should not be dripping back into the room. This either means the unit is angled incorrectly or that a drainage area is blocked. Either way, a call to the hotel or apartments handy man is required. The dangers associated with water collecting could range from potential slips and falls on slippery surfaces or even electrocution if the water interferes with electrical equipment.
Keep an ear out – If while the air conditioner is running you hear sizzling, sputtering or popping noises immediately vacate the premises and alert the hotel or apartment management. This can either be a sign of an impending electrical fault or terminal venting. Terminal venting is when oil or refrigerant spray inside the unit is ignited by electricity leading to a rapidly developing fire.
Lower the load – The less hard your air conditioning has to work the less of a strain will be placed on it and the less chance there is of something going wrong. Draw blinds wherever possible to keep direct sunlight from increasing the room temperature. Utilise any fans that may be present in the room to increase air flow, making you feel cooler with less AC demand. If possible slightly open a window at the opposite end of the room to the air con unit to encourage natural air flow. These tips will all help reduce the demand on your air conditioning unit.
Look for a label – Although it doesn’t necessarily mean your air conditioner has been approved (people can just print labels off after all) checking for a label with some sort of regulatory authority assigned to it would suggest your unit has been checked for safety. If you don’t see a label either don’t use the unit or contact the hotel or buildings manager to report the issue.
Trust your instincts – If you feel the unit looks unmaintained or in disrepair simply don’t use it or raise the issue with your holiday representative or hotel manager. It may result in a couple of uncomfortable nights but that far outweighs the safety benefits.
Odds are your air conditioning system will be above board and effective at keeping you cool for your whole holiday period. However, there is no such thing as being too careful. These holiday air conditioning safety tips will equip you with the knowledge you need to help ensure you and your family are protected. We hope you all enjoy your holidays and have a brilliant and safe time.
Written by Ryan Hill