An important part of Gas Safety Week is making sure people know exactly what to do in the event of a gas leak.
Every year thousands of people across the UK are diagnosed with carbon monoxide poisoning. This highly poisonous gas can't be seen, smelled or tasted, but can kill quickly and without warning. Early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness and then eventually collapsing and even loss of consciousness. As an invisible gas, carbon monoxide can be extremely difficult to detect. However there are ways that you can determine whether an appliance (such as fires, heating boilers, water heaters or cookers) are dangerous. These include:
- The pilot light continually blowing out
- An orange or yellow flame rather than a blue one
- A discoloured scorched area on an appliance
- A musty smell or signs of soot
- More condensation than normal on windows
If you see any of these things, whatever you do DO NOT try to attempt any sort of repair work yourself - you could only end up making it worse. Instead what you should do is call the free emergency gas number on 0800 111 999 and follow their instructions. As soon as you suspect a leak, don't start any flames or operate electrical switches. Make sure to put out any fires, open doors and windows to air out the rooms, keep people away from the area and turn the gas off at the control valve.
Once you've made the call, a trained operator will log a number of details onto a computer. The kind of questions they'll ask you are:
- Your name and phone number
- The address and postcode of the suspected gas emergency
- How many people are at the property
- Where the smell is most noticeable
- How long the smell has been noticeable
- Are any neighbours affected
- Any special circumstances or access information
Following that you'll be asked a number of questions to determine the severity of the situation. This information will be recorded and sent off to an engineer to take action if its required.