Now that winter is upon us it’s likely that you’ll have ovens, fireplaces and boilers on to make festive treats and provide cosy heat, so here CashLady looks at how to keep your home and family safe from a gas or carbon monoxide leak.
In this instalment of the Cash Emergency Bible, we’ll cover the importance of having your gas appliances properly installed and well maintained, along with why it’s essential that you put a carbon monoxide alarm at the top of your shopping list.
The dangers of a gas leak
A gas leak can have potentially devastating consequences, and so if you have gas appliances inside your home then it’s crucial to learn how to spot the signs of a leak and what to if one strikes.
According to figures from Uswitch, there have been 31 deaths and over 1,000 injuries, believed to be gas-related, in the past three years.
A gas leak typically occurs due to faulty pipework or gas appliance, and if not dealt with promptly can result in fires, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning.
The dangers of carbon monoxide
Unlike natural gas, which is highly flammable and so has an odorant added to it by your gas supplier for quick detection, carbon monoxide is known as the ‘silent killer,’ because it’s odourless and can’t be seen.
It’s created when flammable gas is burned without enough oxygen, and numbers from the Department of Health reveal that 50 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning, with another 4,000 treated in hospital.
The true number of those affected is likely to be much higher, however, as the early symptoms are frequently mistaken for flu or tiredness.
Low exposure to carbon monoxide can cause long-term damage, while high levels of exposure are potentially fatal, which is why it’s essential that you install a carbon monoxide alarm.
Read more about the importance of a carbon monoxide alarm here.
Identifying a gas leak
The most obvious sign of a leak is the smell of gas in your home.
In the case of a carbon monoxide leak, there isn’t a smell, but you may experience physical symptoms, including feeling lightheaded, ill, dizzy or nauseous.
Should you feel unwell then go outside immediately and notice that if the symptoms go away in the fresh air then you could be feeling the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning.
There are also some signs from your household appliances that can indicate a leak, even if you can’t smell gas:
Signs of a faulty boiler
- Soot around the appliance
- A yellow or orange weak flame instead of blue flame
- A pilot light which blows out easily
- More condensation than usual on your windows
How to deal with a gas leak
What to do
Turn off the gas supply at your gas meter immediately.
Open all the windows and doors and leave them open to ensure airflow and get fresh air into your home to help get rid of the gas
If you can’t open the windows, then get outside and into the fresh air as soon as possible.
Avoid using any electrical switches, including light switches and electronic doorbells because the sparks could cause an explosion.
Also, avoid smoking, using matches or burning any naked flames as they could all ignite the leaked gas.
Who to call
Take down a note of the National Gas Emergency number, which is 0800 111999 and have it stored in your mobile phone and prominently placed in your kitchen or beside the phone.
Call them immediately if you can smell gas or suspect a leak.
Remember, don’t use a mobile phone inside your home if you suspect a gas leak, instead go outside or to a neighbour’s home.
Once you have called the number, make sure someone is around to help the emergency engineer locate the leak and gain access to your home.
In the unlikely event that a fire breaks out, call the fire service immediately on 999.
What happens next?
If the gas leak is coming from outside, then it is usually the responsibility of the gas network and it should be repaired free of charge.
If the leak is indoors then the gas engineer will always make your property safe and then explain that any work on appliances must be carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
You should ensure that all your gas appliances are fitted by a gas safe engineer and have them serviced regularly.
To find a Gas Safe registered engineer in your area, visit the Gas Safe Register website.
Covering the costs
If you are worried about how you will cover the costs of fixing or replacing your gas appliances, then consider a short-term loan.
Following approval, it can provide the funds that you need fast, allowing you to repay the money on your next payday or over a schedule that suits your financial situation.