Doug the cartoon Gas Safety registered engineer is hitting the road for Gas Safety Week. Along with the big yellow heroes phone box, local registered gas engineers and the Fire and Rescue Services, the Gas Safety Week roadshow is visiting some of England’s gas hot spots.
Whites Heating and Plumbing are keen supporters of Gas Safety Week, a campaign devoted to making consumers aware of regularly checking gas appliances and pipe work. Events will be taking place across the UK from 15-21 September and the week is organised by the Gas Safe Register with support from the gas industry, including retailers, manufacturers and public bodies.
Gas Safety Week is all about raising awareness. Millions of people in the UK use gas for heating, hot water and cooking and go about their everyday business without pausing to think about how safe their gas supply is. One of the key messages to emerge from the campaign is the importance of checking your gas supplies and appliances on an annual basis. Just like you get your car MOT every year, you should have your gas appliances safety checked annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
The potential dangers of badly fitted and poorly serviced gas cookers, fires and boilers are severe. Neglecting to carry out checks can put you at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning, gas leaks, fires and explosions. Every year thousands of people across the UK are diagnosed with carbon monoxide poisoning. It is a highly poisonous gas. You can’t see it, taste it or smell it, but it can kill quickly with no warning. A further message from Gas Safety Week is to highlight the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning – headaches, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness, collapse and loss of consciousness.
Research carried out on behalf of Gas Safety Week suggests that there is a general awareness among the public that gas pipes and appliances should be checked regularly, but nearly half of the population don’t carry out checks and 10 per cent of the population have appliances that have never been checked. The other problem facing consumers is the prevalence of illegal gas fitters – people without the necessary qualifications to work safely with gas. It is a legal requirement that only Gas Safe registered engineers can fit, fix and service domestic gas appliances, yet the Gas Safe Register estimates that there are around 7,500 illegal gas fitters operating across the UK and up to 250,000 illegal gas jobs may be carried out each year (Gas Safe Register Research 2009).
Here are some top tips for staying safe:
- Schedule an annual check on all your gas works and appliances.
- Find a Gas Safe registered engineer in your area. Call the free helpline 0800 408 5500 for further information.
- Always ask to see an engineer’s Gas Safe Register ID card and check the back of the card to ensure they are qualified to carry out the specific type of gas work you need.
- Don’t wait for your annual check, always stay alert to potential problems. Check gas appliances for warning signs that they are not working properly e.g. lazy yellow flames instead of crisp blue ones, black marks or stains on or around the appliance and too much condensation in the room.
- Buy a carbon monoxide alarm for your home and make sure it is located near to your gas appliances in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidance.
- Only use gas appliances for their intended purpose e.g. don’t use a gas oven to heat a room or use a gas barbeque inside the house.
- Always ensure there is enough ventilation for your gas appliances to allow them to burn correctly and make sure you are not blocking any air vents that provide an air supply to the gas appliance.