Ireland’s Guide To Money And Living

Students: Get standards smart

NSAI standards

More than 56,000 students across the country have received their Leaving Certificate results this week, and for many the search for accommodation begins next week. For those of you moving away from home for the very first time, the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) has offered some important safety tips when purchasing items for your new digs.

“Moving away from home is exciting. But certain appliances may be dangerous if not used carefully or correctly especially in confined areas next to others,” said Pat Bracken, NSAI. “That’s why the NSAI wants to help young people become standards smart and know what safety standards to look out for when buying products for their new homes.

NSAI top tips:

1 – Don’t cut corners

Only opt for electrical products that display the CE mark, which should be visible either on the product or the packaging. Under Irish law all electrical products sold here must display the mark, which informs consumers that the product has been tested and meets EU standards.

Be aware, however, that some counterfeit products may feature fake CE marks. Familiarise yourself with what it looks like, and always buy products from reputable in store and online retailers. It may be tempting to buy fake products and save some money, but it could cost you your life.

2 – Get alarmed

Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless, lethal gas – having a carbon monoxide detector could save your life. In Ireland (unlike Britain), NSAI notes, there is no requirement on a landlord to have a carbon monoxide alarm in a rented property.

NSAI recommends that if there isn’t a carbon monoxide alarm in the property, you should request that one is installed, or simply purchase one yourself. When purchasing a carbon monoxide alarm, look for three quality marks – EN 50291, the CE-Mark symbol and end-of-life indicator. These three symbols indicate the alarm has been tested and certified to the highest quality standards.

3 – Testing, testing

Test your smoke detectors once a week, by pressing the test button until the alarm sounds. Change the batteries once a year, unless it’s a ten year alarm – NSAI recommends you replace the whole unit every 10 years.

You should have at least two battery-powered smoke alarms or a mains wired smoke alarm.

4 – Follow instructions

If you are using electrical appliances make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions. When in use, don’t leave items unattended, and always make sure flammable materials are kept well away from cooking/heating devices.

5 – Don’t get overloaded

Avoid overloading outlets with your laptop and phone chargers, TV and gaming system power cables – you could overload the circuit and potentially cause a fire.

NSAI recommends you make sure the extension cord is heavy enough for the intended load and that there are no loose connections. If a cord or plug becomes hot when it’s plugged in, it may be overloaded and should be disconnected immediately.

6 – Heating up

Electric blow heaters are a great way to heat up cold rooms, but should not be used to dry clothes, warm your bed and be left unattended while in use. Misuse can lead to serious injuries, fatalities or fires. NSAI advises that you place the heater where it cannot be knocked over, at least one metre from furniture and flammable materials such as curtains, bedding and paper. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and make sure it displays the CE mark when purchasing.

When not writing about all things personal finance, You & Your Money's editor Conor Forrest enjoys reading, football and getting lost in an ocean of Wikipedia articles.