Faulty gas appliances – Risk of CO poisoning

Every year thousands of people across the UK are diagnosed with carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, often caused by faulty central heating systems, gas cookers or gas fires.

Thousands more suffer without even knowing they are being poisoned. Gas Safe Register recently launched gas safety week to highlight the importance of having gas appliances in the home safety checked annually.

They also publish research released by the Department of Health that confirms that large numbers of people are presenting themselves at hospital with low-level CO poisoning. Over a 12 month period, around 4,000 people have presented themselves at hospital with low-level CO poisoning. Accidental CO poisoning, arising from a variety of fuels, has resulted in more than 50 deaths this year.

Low-level CO poisoning symptoms mirror ailments such as cold, flu or general tiredness and can come about when small amounts of CO gradually escape from gas appliances into the air. But because CO has no taste, colour or smell, it is almost impossible to detect and people don’t realise they are in a dangerous situation until it’s too late.

The CO poisoning statistics come at the same time as research commissioned by Gas Safe Register, which found that a staggering 43% of people don’t get their gas appliances checked regularly, and nearly 1 in 10 are living with appliances that have never been checked.

Paul Johnston, Chief Executive of Gas Safe Register, said “Both sets of research expose worrying problems. It has been known for a long time that even low-level CO poisoning can cause significant harm, but people are failing to understand the importance of annual safety checks. That is why we’ve created Gas Safety Week (12 -18 September) to encourage people to take care and be gas safe.”

Medical expert Dr Rosemary Leonard comments “CO poisoning is a big problem because it creates symptoms that mirror more common everyday ailments. High levels of CO, often caused by faulty central heating systems, gas appliances and gas fires, can cause loss of consciousness and it can kill quickly with no warning. Those with low-level CO poisoning can face long-term health problems and children. Pregnant women and older people are particularly vulnerable.”

Danny Tickner of Samsian Ltd says “we are more than happy to give honest sound gas safety advice to anyone, either call 01732 885882 or use the contact form to get in touch with us if you have a question”

Regular servicing of gas appliances is absolutely vital to ensure their continued safe operation, call us to book your gas safety check or boiler service now.

Smell gas?

If you smell gas or are worried about gas safety you can call the National Gas Emergency Number on 0800 111 999.

If you do smell gas, follow the simple rules below.

Don’t

  • smoke or strike matches
  • turn electrical switches on or off.


Do

  • Put out naked flames.
  • Open doors and windows to ventilate the property.
  • Turn off the gas supply at the meter (unless the smell of gas and the meter are in a cellar). Make sure any gas appliances are turned off.
  • Call the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999.

The National Gas Emergency Service deals with emergency calls from anywhere in the UK. Calls are dealt with through a call centre, where there are trained operators working 24/7 waiting to take your call.

Among other things, the call centre agent may log the following information:

  • address/location of the suspected gas escape or gas emergency
  • number of people in the property
  • where the smell is most noticeable
  • how long the smell has been noticeable
  • whether any neighbours are affected
  • your name and phone number
  • any special circumstances or access information.

Call the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999.

Another severe winter predicted?

Is your boiler ready for this winter?

Samsian Ltd saw a marked increase in the number of central heating breakdowns it received last winter and in December 2012 alone they resolved more than 200 boiler and central heating faults, some of which were due to the extreme weather we experienced throughout the region.

Could we see snowfalls as early as October again?

Managing Director, Danny Tickner said “regular servicing is more important than some people may think. It helps make sure gas appliances are operating both safely and efficiently. It’s madness to wait until your boiler breaks down before you consider getting it checked”

Danny went on to say “regular servicing can also flag up weaknesses and potential problems can be solved before they become a costly  inconvenience, which is usually at exactly the wrong time. Poorly maintained gas appliances could also be costing more to run and with fuel prices the way they are these days it certainly makes you think”

Book your service now and be prepared – Call Samsian Ltd on 01732 885 882.

Gas Safety Week 2013

WHAT’S GOING ON DURING GAS SAFETY WEEK?

Gas Safety Week is an annual safety week to raise awareness of gas safety and the importance of taking care of your gas appliances. It is co-ordinated by Gas Safe Register with support from the gas industry including retailers, manufacturers, consumer bodies and the public.

Twenty one million households in United Kingdom, Isle of Man and Guernsey use gas for heating, hot water and cooking, yet we take it for granted that our boilers, cookers and gas fires are safe. Badly fitted and poorly serviced gas appliances can cause gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Did you know?

  • 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.
  • Gas Safe Register estimate that there are a hard core of 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).
  • Although there is awareness that gas appliances need to be safety checked annually, 43% of Britons don’t do it, and 10% have gas appliances which have never been checked (Gas Safety Week Research 2011).

This year sees the third Gas Safety Week taking place, from 16th – 22nd September 2013. With national advertising, media coverage and events throughout the week, gas safety messages reach far and wide right at the start of heating season.

EMERGENCY CONTACTS AND SAFETY INFORMATION

Useful numbers and contacts

Gas Emergency Services

  • England, Scotland and Wales:
    • For Natural gas, call the National Gas Emergency Service Freephone Number: 0800 111 999
    • For liquified petroleum gas (LPG),
      • Bulk and Metered supplies; see telephone number on the bulk storage vessel or at the meter
      • Cylinder supplies; See gas supplier emergency contact details in the local telephone directory*
  • Northern Ireland:
    • For Natural gas, call the Northern Ireland Gas Emergency Service: 0800 002 001
    • For liquified petroleum gas (LPG),
      • Bulk and Metered supplies; see telephone number on the bulk storage vessel or at the meter
      • Cylinder supplies; See gas supplier emergency contact details in the local telephone directory*
  • Isle of Man:
    • For Natural gas, Towns gas** and LPG, call Manx Gas Ltd: 01624 644 444
  • Guernsey:
    • For Mains gas** and LPG, call Guernsey Gas Ltd: 01481 749000
  • Jersey:
    • For Mains gas** and LPG, call Jersey Gas Company Ltd: 01534 755555
  • Contact details of the four main suppliers of LPG in Great Britain
    • Calor: 08457 444 999
    • BP: 0845 607 6118
    • Flogas: 0845 720 0100
    • Shell: 0870 7539 999

* For cylinder supplies on caravan parks and hire boats, the site owner and/or boat operator may also have responsibilities. Advice may be obtained from the gas company identified on the cylinder through their emergency contact details.

Information

Gas

  • Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in GB Gas Safety Line:
    • call: 0800 300 363
    • visit: www.hse.gov.uk/gas/domestic
  • Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI)
    • call: 0800 0320 121
    • visit: www.hseni.gov.uk/index/information_and_%20guidance/sector_specific_guidance/informationongas.htm
  • The Health and Safety at Work Inspectorate for the Isle of Man (HSWI)
    • visit: www.gov.im/dlge/enviro/healthandsafety/gas.xml
  • Health and Safety Executive for Guernsey
    • visit: www.hse.guernsey.gg/Downloads_Gas_Safety.html

Oil and Biofuel

  • Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC)
    • call: 0845 65 85 080 (helpline)
    • visit: http://www.oftec.org/

Solid fuel and Biomass

  • Heating Equipment Testing and Approval Scheme (HETAS)
    • call: 0845 634 5626
    • visit: http://www.hetas.co.uk/

Plumbing

  • Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors (APHC)
    • call: 0121 711 5030
    • visit: www.aphc.co.uk
  • The Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE)
  • Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers’ Federation (SNIPEF)

Advice on building regulations

  • Local Authority Building Control (LABC)
    • call: 0844 561 6136
    • visit: http://www.labc.uk.com/

Advice on carbon monoxide alarms

  • Council of Gas Detection and Environmental Monitoring (CoGDEM)
    • call: 0800 1694 457
    • visit: www.cogdem.org.uk
    • call: Samsian 01732 821951

Medical information

  • NHS Choices
    • visit: www.nhs.uk/carbonmonoxide
  • NHS Direct
    • call: 0845 4647
    • visit: www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk

Patient support groups

  • Carbon Monoxide and Gas Safety Society (CO-Gas Safety)
    • call: 01372 466112
    • visit: www.co-gassafety.co.uk
  • CO-Awareness Ltd
    • visit: www.co-awareness.org

** Mains gas and Towns gas
Guernsey and Jersey in common with the United Kingdom and the Isle of Man have LPG supplies, but where they differ, is that they do not have any Natural gas installations. The gas used in the mains distribution system is a manufactured LPG/Air mixture (otherwise known as ‘mains gas’). The mains gas consumers are served by a network of underground mains emanating from a LPG/Air production plant, where the gas is processed, constantly monitored and checked for quality and purity.

Gas Installations in the Isle of Man are similar to those found in Guernsey and Jersey; however the Isle of Man is currently undergoing a gas conversion programme, whereby many of its LPG/Air installations on its ‘Towns gas’ network are being converted to burn Natural gas. There are also some 6,000 installations still using LPG/Air. The plan is to convert the existing LPG/Air installations to Natural gas by 2012.

Source Gas Safe Register Feb 2011

HOMEOWNERS UNWITTINGLY EMPLOY ILLEGAL GAS FITTERS

100,000 home improvement projects left with dangerous gas work

100,000 home improvement projects, such as new kitchens and extensions, left homeowners with illegal and dangerous gas work of which they had no knowledge until it was too late, according to annual figures released by Gas Safe Register’s investigations team.

Of these projects 1 in 7 were found to be ‘Immediately Dangerous’ and required the gas appliances to be disconnected straight away to avoid a gas leak, explosion, fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. In all cases home owners had left their project to a builder, contractor or project manager to handle who in turn subcontracted to dangerous and illegal gas fitters.

A new report into home improvement work, also released, found that the majority of Britons leave the supervision of home renovations to a building firm rather than manage it themselves. When hiring these building firms, people expect them to verify all necessary checks on the tradesman they subcontract to. Worryingly 85% of people who had gas work carried out in their home had no idea whether the job had been done by a safe and legal Gas Safe registered engineer.

With 100,000 home improvement jobs ending up with illegal gas work in the last year, Gas Safe Register is warning home owners to check the credentials of every tradesperson working on their project.

Handing over a home improvement project, like a loft conversion or kitchen renovation to one builder or project manager may be an efficient route, but homeowners still need to keep a handle on who is working on the job,warns Phill Brewster, national investigations manager from Gas Safe Register.

“As this study has revealed, homes are under threat from shoddy workmanship as a result of rogue traders. We were alarmed to find so many illegal gas jobs were the result of subcontracted home improvement projects, where the homeowner had simply trusted the project manager to check the credentials of the fitter”

Phill continues: “The study also found that Britons most popular home improvement job is having a new kitchen fitted. But home improvers fitting new kitchens should be cautious. Our investigations team are often called out to inspect new kitchens where dangerous gas work has been carried out, and more often than not we find gas escapes and carbon monoxide leaking from hobs and cookers. This happens when builders and kitchen fitters try fitting the gas appliances themselves, or subcontract to illegal gas fitters.”

Gas Safe Register’s advice is simple, if you’re having any home improvement work done find out in advance if it will involve gas work. Even common home improvements jobs such as loft conversions and conservatories can involve gas which you may not realise. When it comes to gas you don’t want to get it wrong. If you do, the consequences could be fatal. If you want to keep your family and home safe always check the gas engineer is qualified and registered.

Planning on home improvement work? Follow Gas Safe Register’s top tips:

  • No matter how big or small the home improvement job, find out if it will involve gas work and only use a Gas Safe registered engineer.
  • If you’re using a builder or project manager to employ the gas fitter, check their credentials to make sure they are Gas Safe registered and can work safely on gas.
  • If you’ve recently had home improvement work done which involved gas and you’re not sure if a registered engineer did the work, nominate your property for a free safety check.
  • If you suspect an illegal gas fitter report it to Gas Safe Register immediately.

For more advice on avoiding illegal gas fitters visit www.GasSafeRegister.co.uk or speak to Samsian Ltd.

Source Gas Safe Register May 2011