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We’re often surrounded by gas appliances in our homes – from gas boilers to stoves – but we give little thought to how dangerous they can be. According to Gas Safe, one in six homes has a dangerous gas appliance, which creates a risk of gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning.
From the 14th to the 20th September, Gas Safety Week will aim to challenge this complacency, and make us all more aware of the precautions we need to take.
At Capital Repairs, gas safety is something we feel strongly about. All of our engineers are Gas Safe Registered and highly trained – and, with many people turning on their boilers and using their hobs more from early September, we wanted to do our bit to help spread the message.
Here are 9 tips that could help save your life.
Only use a Gas Safe registered engineer to fit, fix or service your appliances
Entrusting the care of a dangerous appliance to someone who isn’t qualified to do the job, doesn’t make sense – even if they are offering their services for a dramatically reduced price!
You should only allow someone who is Gas Safe registered to fix, fit or service appliances, including your gas fire, gas cooker, boiler and central heating systems (if they are connected to a natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas supply).
You can check if a gas engineer or business is Gas Safe registered on the home page of the Gas Safe site.
Always check that the engineer has a Gas Safe registered licence
Every Gas Safe registered engineer should carry a Gas Safe licence – so if they can’t show you one, don’t let them do the work. This card will contain information such as their unique licence number and the type of work they’re qualified to carry out.
Have gas appliances checked yearly
To be confident that your appliances are safe, it’s recommended that you have them checked every year – or in line with your manufacturer’s guidelines. If you’re on means-tested benefits, pension age or chronically sick or disabled, you may be able to go on your energy company’s Priority Services Register. This will entitle you to a free annual gas safety check.
Ask Gas Safe to check work is up to scratch
Have you had gas work done in the last six months? If the answer’s yes, you can nominate it for a free gas safety check from Gas Safe to check it’s up to standard. You can also report an engineer if you suspect they are doing gas work illegally.
Get appliances tested if you move
Moving house? The old owners might not have maintained their gas appliance properly, so you’ll need to make getting them serviced a priority.
Ask to see your landlord’s gas safety record if you’re renting
Your landlord is responsible for the safety of gas appliances – but don’t just assume that their gas safety record is up to date. Ask to see a copy and, if they won’t provide one or it’s not up to date, complain to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Buy a carbon monoxide alarm
You can buy carbon monoxide alarms from most DIY stores, supermarkets or energy suppliers. They will alert you to the presence of carbon monoxide gas, helping you to keep your family safe.
Be alert for any signs that appliances aren’t working properly
Even if you regularly have your appliances serviced, it’s important to keep an eye out for anything unusual. Things to be aware of include:
- A lazy or orange flame on your gas hob (it should be crisp and blue)
- Soot or black marks on or near gas appliances
- The pilot light going out frequently
- Increased condensation inside your windows
Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and the right action to take
Carbon monoxide poisoning is deadly, with the colourless, odourless gas killing an estimated 30-50 people a year. If your appliances are properly maintained, you shouldn’t be at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning at home.
However, knowing the symptoms and how to respond to them could save your life if poisoning did occur. Symptoms and signs include:
- Loss of consciousness and collapse
- Symptoms that disappear when you leave a particular building and come back when you return
- Other people and animals experiencing the same symptoms
If you do suspect you’re suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning, you should:
- Immediately get fresh air by opening the doors and windows
- Turn the gas off at the meter and turn off any gas appliances – don’t use them again until they’ve been checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer
- Extinguish any naked flames
- Leave the building
- Go to hospital or see a doctor immediately and tell them you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning
- Call the Gas Emergency Helpline on 0800 111 999
It’s all too easy to overlook just how dangerous gas appliances can be. To make sure your appliances are safe follow the above tips, or visit the Gas Safe site for more information. You can also find out more and pledge your support at the Gas Safety Week site.