Many houses in the UK are safely heated by gas however the potential for disaster always needs to be taken into account and it is important for the health and safety of your family that you know what to should an emergency arise.
The main way you can tell if you have a gas leak will be if you can smell gas. Gas has a distinctive smell and if you smell gas you need to call National Grid Gas Emergencies (0800 111 999 24 hours) immediately.
Next you need to aerate the room by opening all of the windows and making sure that all gas appliances are switched off. You can also turn the gas off at the mains if you know where that is.
Be very wary of using any electrical appliances including your light switches as this could cause an explosion and definitely do not smoke or light a match for any reason at all.
It is always unwise to try to fix any broken appliance yourself unless you are a registered gas fitter. Not only is this a false economy but you can also be fined and may actually be breaking the law. For your own safety you must always use a company who is gas registered.
Call the 24 hour emergency line on 0800 111 999
At times the National Grid will be doing maintenance or repairs and may have to disconnect your gas supply. In this case they must notify you and keep any disruption to a minimum. If the cut is unplanned the National Grid must restore the gas supply as soon as possible and if they do not consumers are entitled to compensation.
If an appliance has been installed incorrectly there is a possibility that you might get carbon monoxide poisoning. This can also be caused through poor maintenance and inadequate ventilation. Carbon monoxide gas is odourless, tasteless and colourless and so it is very difficult to detect. Being exposed to the gas can cause brain damage and death.
It is a legal requirement that all gas appliances are checked and in particular in rental properties to ensure the safety of the occupants. Tenants may also protect themselves by purchasing a carbon monoxide detector which sets off an alarm and changes colour if any CO is detected. You should test your alarm each month and change the batteries when necessary.
Other things you can look for are:
- The pilot light continuously going out.
- An orange and yellow flame rather than a blue one.
- Musty smells or signs of soot.
- A black, brown or scorched area on appliances.
- More condensation than normal on windows.
Symptoms in humans include:
- Chest pains
- Stomach pains
- Erratic behaviour
Be careful if you find your symptoms get batter when you are away from the house and if they worsen when you are at home.
At any sign of CO evacuate the house immediately.