Safety campaign highlights dangers of legionella

As part of its building safety campaign, Thirteen is reminding customers what they can do to avoid potentially fatal levels of legionella bacteria forming in water systems.

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28 Apr 2022

The campaign highlights the dangers of toxic legionella bacteria and how risks can be reduced.

Head of compliance and customer safety Richard Marron said: “As we head towards the warmer months and the time when many people begin to go on holiday, there’s a greater potential for Legionella bacteria forming in water systems.

“This could be in shower hoses, water pipes and garden hoses. The risk increases if the water outlets have not been used for over a week, so you must take great care if you’re leaving your home empty or travelling to stay somewhere which could have been empty for more than one week without running water.

“Legionella bacteria is commonly found in water, but increased levels can cause Legionnaires’ disease – a lung infection which you can get from inhaling droplets of water.

“Although the risk is low, there are a number of ways you can help keep you and your family safe at home and on holiday.”

Tips to keep you and your family safe at home and on holiday

  • Always keep all shower heads and taps clean and free from build-up of limescale, mould or algae.
  • Regular cleaning of shower heads with bleach or an anti-bacterial cleanser every three months will help sterilise and kill any bacteria.
  • Dismantle spray taps and clean them of scale and debris every three to six months.
  • Run the taps for at least three minutes once a week and leave the room – do this on holiday too when you get to your accommodation, as you don’t know the last time your room was used).
  • Place the shower head over the drain, to reduce the risk of inhaling water droplets and run the water for a few minutes and leave the room – do this on holiday too when you get to your accommodation.
  • Flush the toilet twice with the lid down and do this on holiday too when you get to your accommodation.
  • Thirteen customers should report any rust or unusual matter flowing from water outlets to us or their local water authority.
  • Heat the water in your electric water tank and use it immediately at least two to three times a week.
  • Drain hosepipes after use and keep them out of direct sunlight. Flush through for a couple of minutes ensuring the end of the hose is away from people during flushing, especially before filling paddling pools or hot tubs.
  • Maintain the temperature of water below 20°C or above 60°C, as the bacteria survives in warm contaminated water.
  • Raising the temperature of warm water is one way to control Legionella but could also increase the risk of burns and scalding. Please take care especially if you have children.

Useful websites

Signs and symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease can be found by clicking on the links below.