Fuelling your everyday domestic needs such as heating and cooking, gas consumption is universal in modern Britain. As a result, an awareness of the risks that accompany the efficacy of gas is crucial, ensuring your welfare and peace of mind.
What Risks Come With the Installation and Use of Gas Appliances?
Though the high flammability of gas is what makes it so useful, it also means that irresponsible gas usage can lead to leaks, fires and explosions. Though rare, carbon monoxide poisoning is another severe consequence of carelessness which can prove deadly, with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reporting an average of 7 fatalities every year.
How Can You, the Homeowner, Prevent Them?
You should always ensure the correct installation, ventilation and maintenance of any gas appliance, and establish a means of immediately detecting carbon monoxide.
Only ever use Gas Safe registered engineers to install your gas appliances - the exhaustive list of all certified business can be found online and all registered engineers are legally obligated to carry a Gas Safe Register ID Card. This contains a unique license number and provides the specificities of the work they are qualified to undertake. Employ caution and request to see this upon the arrival of the engineer at your home.
You should ensure that any room containing a gas appliance should be sufficiently ventilated, as a constant supply of fresh air is required to burn the gas, to cool the components and to prevent combustion. You should not block any drafts, such as those from chimneys, air vents or flues.
All of your gas appliances should be serviced annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Particular guidance concerning the maintenance of any given appliance should be provided by the manufacturer.
If an appliance is deemed unsafe, the engineer should provide a written explanation and you should not under any circumstances continue to use the appliance. Instead, seek an urgent replacement. You may qualify for a free annual gas safety check if you are on means-tested benefits and living with a child under five, or if you are a pensioner.
Carbon Monoxide Detection
The fitting of a carbon monoxide alarm is also essential, alerting you to the presence of the odourless, colourless gas. If an engineer has condemned your appliance as unsafe and suggests it might be emitting carbon monoxide, you should check yourself into hospital immediately.
Even if an engineer has not declared an appliance unfit for use, the presence of symptoms such as nausea, confusion, abdominal pain, headaches and dizziness are a cause for concern, and you should immediately seek medical help and alert the gas emergency services line on 0800 111 999. You should also switch off your gas supply at the mains and ensure the evacuation of anyone else living in the home.
If you are renting a property, you should check whether your landlord has a gas safety certificate. They are legally obligated to produce a copy of this upon your request. If they refuse, or cannot produce a copy, you should notify HSE immediately. It is your landlords responsibility to schedule annual gas safety checks, however it is your personal responsibility to install a carbon monoxide alarm, to further ensure your safety.