Gas Safety Week aims to raise awareness of the dangers of gas leaks and the malfunction of appliances in your home.
- A gas leak in your home can be dangerous, especially if left undetected
- Signs of a leak include a rotten-egg or sulphur-like smell and a hissing sound
- It’s important to service your appliances yearly and use a Gas Safe-registered engineer
With homes that have a gas supply, there’s always a slight risk of a leak. Across Gas Safety Week, there is a drive to make people aware of the potential dangers and how to minimise the risk.
What is Gas Safety Week?Gas Safety Week is a yearly awareness campaign organised by the official body for gas engineers in the UK, the Gas Safe Register. It has been created to not only support the gas industry but also offer advice to keep gas-supplied homes and businesses safe.
The week is packed with activities to highlight the dangers of things like faulty gas appliances and equipment. It also looks to promote the importance of hiring qualified engineers to service gas equipment annually.
What are the causes of a gas leak?
The most common sources of a gas leak in homes centre around appliances, such as a cooker or boiler.
The causes vary but generally come from them being:
- Wrongly fitted: A poorly installed gas appliance could be emitting gas into your home by being set-up incorrectly
- Faulty or broken: If a device isn’t operating properly, gas can leak out as a result
- Poorly maintained: Appliances that aren’t serviced yearly run the risk of breaking without your knowledge, which can lead to a gas leak eventually
What are the signs of a gas leak?
If there’s a gas leak in your home, there are a few tell-tale signs you can look out for:
1. ‘Rotten egg-like’ smell: You may also smell sulphur, which can indicate a gas appliance being left on – or a more serious gas leak
2. A whistling or hissing noise: This could be the noise of the gas escaping an appliance or pipeline, which might suggest there is a leak that needs reporting immediately
3. A white cloud or dust cloud: This will be near a gas line
4. Bubbles in water
5. A damaged gas pipe
6. Dead or dying houseplants
7. Physical symptoms: If you start to suffer from headaches, feel fatigued or have difficulty breathing, you may be suffering from gas or carbon monoxide poisoning.
What are the risks of a gas leak?
A gas leak in your home can be very serious. If undetected or unchecked, there’s a risk of fire or an explosion. If you believe there’s gas leaking in your home, you should never ignite anything – like a cigarette or match – until you’re told it’s safe to do so.
There’s also the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, which can be fatal. It’s odourless so it’s impossible to detect without a carbon monoxide alarm.
A tension-type headache is the most common symptom of mild carbon monoxide poisoning.
Other symptoms include:
- Feeling and being sick
- Tiredness and confusion
- Stomach pain
- Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing
The symptoms of exposure to low levels of carbon monoxide can be similar to those of food poisoning and flu.
What should I do in the event of a gas leak?
If you can smell gas in your home, don’t panic. There are several steps you can take to stay safe:
- Turn off the gas supply if it is safe to do so at the emergency control valve at the meter unless the meter is located in a basement/cellar or at the LPG bulk tank or storage vessels
- Extinguish all naked flames and do not smoke
- Do not operate electrical switches (this includes turning switches on or off). Operating electrical equipment can ignite escaping gas
- Get to fresh air immediately - open all doors and windows to ventilate the area
- Contact the relevant National Gas Emergency number (see below)
- If you are feeling unwell visit your GP or hospital immediately and inform them that you may have been exposed to carbon monoxide
- If the attending emergency operative identifies any concern with any gas appliances, follow the advice given concerning use of the equipment and where advised contact a Gas Safe registered engineer to fix the appliance and check for safety
- Do not turn the gas supply on again until it has been checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer
Top gas safety tips
Staying gas-savvy is easy. We’ve highlighted 3 safety tips for you to gas-proof your home:
1. Hire a Gas Safe-registered engineer: The Gas Safe Register, which replaced the CORGI in 2009, requires all gas engineers to be listed before carrying out work . Make sure you check their Gas Safe Register ID card when your engineer arrives. There's also clever new gas safe technology - Gas Tag, designed to be a safeguard for home across the UK when it comes to gas compliance.
John Roche, COO of Gas Tag, said: “We created Gas Tag to eliminate the 1.1 million illegal jobs carried out by unregistered rogue traders each year and reduce risks created through paper trail compliance.
“We would advise homeowners and landlords to make sure they check an engineers Gas Safe Register ID before allowing them to complete any work at their property. We also advise that they keep a digital copy of their documentation to ensure they have easy access to compliance information.”
2. Use a carbon monoxide alarm :Fitting a carbon monoxide alarm is essential if you’ve got gas appliances in your home – it can literally be a lifesaver. An audible alarm will alert you if it detects carbon monoxide in your home, giving you time to get out and phone for help.
3. Get your gas appliances serviced annually :Just like your car, your gas appliances need to be serviced every year. A annual check can help protect your home from fires , explosions and other associated risks of a gas leak. If you’re renting, check with your landlord to find out their Gas Safety Record and dates of annual servicing.