Watch out for summer gas emergencies!
You might think you’re relatively unlikely to experience a gas emergency in the summer. In the winter, boilers and central heating systems work 24/7, and you may spend a lot of time indoors, but in the summer, you are likely to be out and about more often, and will likely be more than happy with the ambient temperature.
But don’t be lax when it comes to summer gas safety! Recent research from the Gas Safe Register has shown that many people seem to underestimate the risks gas poses in the summer, despite the fact that the National Grid attended 30,000 dangerous gas incidents between May and September 2014 and dealt with 9,500 incidents of carbon monoxide poisoning.
So even though fires, gas leaks, minor explosions and deadly CO leaks occur relatively regularly in the summer, many Brits unwittingly believe that they don’t need to think about gas safety as their central heating is switched off. A survey by the Gas Safe Register found:
- A total of 19% of homeowners do not think that they use their gas boiler in the summer because their heating is off;
- Despite this, these homeowners still use hot water – suggesting that their boiler is still in use – and still cook on gas appliances;
- Just 6% of people said they think carbon monoxide poisoning is a summer health risk;
- Yet one third of people say they use a gas barbecue weekly during the summer;
- Every day last summer, an average of 189 homes experienced a dangerous gas emergency;
- In the last three years, 28 people have been injured or killed after brining a barbecue indoors or into an enclosed space; and
- Carbon monoxide alone leads to six serious injuries every week.
The Gas Safe Register warned that poorly-maintained or badly-fitted gas appliances can be seriously dangerous, and that portable barbecues can be just as dangerous, as they can create lethal levels of carbon monoxide in confined locations.
To combat the risks faced by Brits in the summer, the Gas Safe Register and NHS Choices have collaborated with each other to highlight the risks barbecues and poorly-maintained gas appliances can pose, and to increase public awareness of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Gas Safe Register Managing Director Jonathan Samuel said it is “worrying” to see that so many Brits do not seem to know that they still use gas appliances during the summer months and are therefore exposed to risks.
He argued that people who do not know they are at danger are more likely to suffer harm, and said it is “vital” for people to know the symptoms of CO poisoning and the signs of a dangerous gas appliances.
The “only way” for people to keep their homes and their family safe is to arrange an annual gas safety check by a Gas Safe engineer, Mr Samuel said, warning that people should not “put it off until winter”.
Summer gas safety tips
- Arrange your annual boiler service for the summer. Landlords are legally required to arrange gas safety checks every year and must provide their tenants with the CP12 certificate.
- Know how to safely use a barbecue: Never use smouldering or lit charcoal barbecues, gas barbecues, gas stoves, gas heaters or gas lights in any enclosed space, such as tents, rooms, cabins and caravans, unless it has been installed and maintained properly and is a permanent fixture.
- Do not take extinguished barbecues indoors, as they can emit carbon monoxide for many hours after they have been put out.
- Understand the warning signs of dangerous gas appliances, such as lazy orange or yellow pilot lights and flames, scorch marks or black marks around the appliance, and unusual levels of condensation.
- Understand the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, as they can be confused with flu, colds and hayfever. These symptoms include nausea, dizziness, headaches, breathing difficulty, fainting and loss of consciousness.
Summer carbon monoxide poisoning case study
Jade Ulrich, a mother-of-two, moved into a new rented home in summer 2013, but did not find out if the gas appliances in the building had been checked recently – a mistake many people make. Jade, who was pregnant at the time, suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning, as did her family. It transpited that a badly-maintained gas appliance was to blame for the incident.
She said she feels “extremely lucky” that she and her family survived.
Ms Ulrich explained that the gas boiler in her new home had not been serviced for 18 months on the day when she moved in, but admitted she was “completely unaware” that this was dangerous.
She only suspected something was wrong when everyone in the household began to feel extremely dizzy, sick and tired, but when she called out a Gas Safe engineer, her boiler was quickly condemned as “immediately dangerous”.
Subsequent investigations revealed a total of six times the landlord’s gas safety checks had not taken place within the legally-mandatory 12-month period. Landlords Deborah and Andrew Hopkinson later admitted to breaching gas safety regulations in a February 2015 hearing at Truro Magistrates’ Court and were each fined £7,000 with £209 in costs.
Having trouble with your boiler?
Don’t attempt to touch any part of your boiler or central heating system if you’re unsure. Did you know? It’s illegal for anyone to use a gas appliance if they think it’s unsafe. It’s always better to be safe than sorry as you could make things worse.
Instead, call us on 0345 3192 247 and we can help. Our technical team will run through some simple troubleshooting to see if your problem can be resolved on the phone or they can book one of our friendly and knowledgeable Gas Safe registered engineers to get you back up and running as soon as possible.