This winter's unusually mild weather may have deterred many people from switching on their central heating but gas network company National Grid is urging householders to ensure their gas appliances are checked, ahead of any cold snaps in the coming weeks and months.
Faulty or badly maintained gas appliances could leak deadly carbon monoxide (CO) gas, causing death or serious injury. Householders may be unaware of problems with appliances that haven't been used for a while until they hit the 'on' button.
Some 50 people a year die of carbon monoxide poisoning but National Grid has three simple life-saving tips to keep people safe:
- Ensure gas appliances are installed, maintained and fixed by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
- Get your gas appliances checked annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer
- As a backup, buy and install an audible carbon monoxide detector. They can be bought for as little as £15 and could save your life
For two weeks, starting 22 January, National Grid will have 100 carbon monoxide detectors to give away. Just log on to the National Grid UK Facebook page www.facebook.com/NationalGridUK for your chance to win an alarm and for more tips on how to stay safe this winter.
Every year 200 people are admitted to hospital as the result of exposure to carbon monoxide - a poisonous, colourless, odourless gas - and 4,000 visit hospital accident and emergency departments with the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
The main symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headaches, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness, collapse and loss of consciousness. If you experience any of these symptoms seek medical advice immediately and contact the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999.
A National Grid spokesperson said: "Carbon monoxide is often known as the silent killer because you can't see it or smell it but carbon monoxide poisoning can be avoided by taking simple steps. Ensure your gas appliances are fitted, maintained and serviced annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer and as a back-up, fit an audible carbon monoxide detector. If you are experiencing the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning seek medical help and call the National Gas Emergency Service immediately on 0800 111 999."
Carbon monoxide symptoms can be confused with flu or other illnesses. Other signs that could point to carbon monoxide poisoning are:
- Your symptoms only occur at home
- Your symptoms disappear when you leave home and come back when you return
- Other members of the household, including pets, are experiencing symptoms and they appear at a similar time
- Gas appliances burning with orange or yellow flames instead of blue flames
- Sooty stains on or near appliances
- Pilot lights that frequently blow out
- Increased condensation inside windows
To find a Gas Safe registered engineer visit www.gassaferegister.co.uk or call 0800 408 5500.
For more information on gas safety and carbon monoxide visit the website links below: