Here are ten gas safety tips to keep yourself and your family safe against carbon monoxide.
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All you need to know about gas safety, using a qualified engineer, and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Using a Gas Safe Registered (previously CORGI Gas) Engineer
Letting someone who isn't qualified install or service a gas appliance can put you at serious risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is incredibly dangerous; it can kill you quickly and with almost no warning, but you can't see, taste or smell it.
The Gas Safe Register - previously known as CORGI - is the UK's official gas safety body. As such any boiler engineer you use should be on the Gas Safe Register.
You should only allow boiler engineers to work on your heating systems if they have an official Gas Safe Register membership card. If your engineer still has a CORGI card after this date, they are not registered, and as a result will not be able to carry out gas work legally.
When checking your engineer's card from now on, look for the yellow Gas Safe Register triangle and not the orange CORGI registration badge.
1. Have your gas appliances checked yearly.
If you are on a means tested benefit, pension age or chronically sick or disabled you may be entitled to go on your energy companies Priority Services Register which will entitle you to a free annual gas safety check. Find out whether you could benefit by getting in touch with your energy company.
2. Always check that an engineer is Gas Safe registered.
It is against the law for anyone to do work on gas appliances in the United Kingdom, Isle of Man or Guernsey unless they are on the Gas Safe Register. Always check that an engineer is Gas Safe registered before you let them work in your home on the Gas Safe Register website or by calling 0800 408 5500.
Registered gas engineers will have a Gas Safe ID card
The Gas Safe ID card looks like this:
There are different kinds of registration - for example, someone may be registered to work on your boiler or pipework, but they might not be qualified to install a gas fire. You can check what kind of work they are qualified to do on the back of their card.
3. It's illegal for someone who works for a Gas Safe-registered business to do private work.
Hiring someone who normally works for a reputable firm, but is doing some extra work 'on the side' isn't the good idea it might seem - it's actually illegal.
4. Report anyone who you suspect of working on gas illegally.
If you think someone is working on gas illegally, report them to the Gas Safe Register and they will investigate their work.
5. Nominate your gas work for an inspection.
If you've had gas work done in the last six months, you can nominate it for a free gas safety inspection from Gas Safe to make sure it's up to scratch.
6. If you move house, get your appliances tested.
If you move into a new home, don't assume the appliances are safe - get everything checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
7. Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning - it could save your life:
- collapse or loss of consciousness
- symptoms which disappear or get better when you leave home and come back when you return
- other people (and animals) experiencing the same symptoms at the same time
8. Know what to do if you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning.
Know what to do if you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning:
- get fresh air immediately - open the doors and windows
- turn off any gas appliances and turn the gas off at the meter
- extinguish naked flames
- leave the house
- see your doctor immediately or go to hospital - let them know that you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning
- call the Gas Emergency Helpline on 0800 111 999 if you think there's any danger
9. Check for warning signs that your appliances may not be working properly.
Check for warning signs that your appliances may not be working properly:
- the flame on your gas cooker should be crisp and blue. Lazy yellow or orange flames mean you need to get your cooker checked
- you may see soot or black marks or staining around or on gas appliances
- your pilot lights may go out frequently
- you may see increased condensation inside your windows
10. Get an audible carbon monoxide alarm.
Get an audible carbon monoxide alarm. You can't taste, smell or see carbon monoxide, so an alarm is a good way to protect yourself. Carbon monoxide alarms look like a smoke alarm and are easy to install and should cost under £20. Make sure the alarm you buy has a British or European approval mark on it, such as a Kitemark.
Read the Transcript
Understanding the Importance of the Gas Safe ID Card
So, you’ve checked your Gas Safe engineer is Gas Safe registered on the Gas Safe register website, or given us a call on our free helpline number. Before you let your gas engineer into your home to carry out work on your gas appliances, there’s one more thing you must do: check their Gas Safe ID card. All Gas Safe registered engineers carry an ID card. When they turn up to your door, if they don’t show you the ID card, then don’t be afraid to ask to see it.
On the Gas Safe ID card there are four things you must check:
- The photo is of the engineer that’s come to your home.
- The start date and expiry date - if it has expired please contact Gas Safe register.
- The unique individual licence number at the top and also embossed in the middle of the card.
- And finally the Gas Safe security hologram at the bottom.
By law, all gas engineers need to be on the Gas Safe register when working in the UK, Isle of Man and Guernsey. However, remember that not all Gas Safe registered engineers can work on all types of gas appliances. You need to check the back of the card to make sure that the work listed is what your engineer can do in your home.
For example, do you want them to service your gas boiler? Check that it says ‘gas boiler’ on the back of the card and check that the qualifications listed are up to date. Also check that pipe work is listed as this is the engineer’s minimum safety qualification to work in your home. Unsafe gas work can cause gas leaks, explosions, fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. So it’s always better to be gas safe than sorry. Always check the card.
What is the Gas Safe Register?
The Gas Safe Register was launched in 2009 and took over from the previous gas safety scheme which was called CORGI Gas Registration. CORGI Gas had been in place for more than 17 years and was able to significantly reduce domestic gas safety issues during this time.
Despite this success, a gas safety review in 2006, carried out by industry stakeholders, gas engineers and consumer groups, decided even more progress could be made by reforming CORGI Gas Registration.
Building on what had already been achieved, in 2008 the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) selected the Capita Group Plc to provide a new registration initiative for gas engineers.
The Gas Safe Register was created and committed to improving gas safety and value for both the public and engineers.
Carbon monoxide poisoning
Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning kills about 50 people each year in their homes, with more than 200 suffering from health problems as a result of CO exposure. With this in mind, it is vital that you make sure you know the risks and how to prevent CO poisoning.
Carbon monoxide is so dangerous because you can't see, smell or hear it. Therefore you need to be extra vigilant when looking out for the symptoms of CO poisoning.
CO poisoning can manifest itself with symptoms similar to those of a hangover or the flu. You may experience headaches, nausea, dizziness, breathlessness and in extreme cases you might even collapse or lose consciousness. If you find the symptoms disappear when you leave the house, then it could be that you're suffering from CO poisoning.
For more information you can click through to our guide on Carbon monoxide poisoning.
How can I prevent it?
- If you own your property, it is your responsibility to make sure that all your gas appliances are serviced and checked on an annual basis.
- It is essential that you use a Gas Safe Registered engineer, as only registered engineers are legally allowed to install and service gas appliances in your home. Gas Safe Register replaced Corgi as the official gas registration body for Great Britain and the Isle of Man on 1st April 2009.
- If you are moving into rented accommodation, it is the law that your landlord has to produce a gas safety certificate to prove that annual safety checks have been carried out and all gas appliances have been serviced.
- It is also important that you have a carbon monoxide alarm fitted. You can buy these from most DIY stores and they can be fitted to the wall easily, preferably in your bedroom.
- The alarm will sound when CO levels in the room start to rise above the normal level, at which stage you should contact an engineer immediately and leave the property.
- If you're in the UK and have any problems with gas in your property, you can call the Gas Emergency freephone number 0800 111 999.