The housewives' heart-throb is also a cult figure among students, many of whom see Dr Kennedy as a father figure who dispenses sound advice to many of Neighbours' teenage characters.
Alan was shocked at a survey that showed two out of three university students weren't bothered about gas safety or the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, and decided to help National Grid raise awareness of the issues.
Alan explained: "I'm passionate about the university experience. For many students this is their first time away from home, and I think it's important that they're aware of some basic tips to make their time at university safer.
Recent research carried out by National Grid showed students' priorities when finding accommodation are the size of the room, and how close it is to the nearest pub. Worryingly, nearly 50% of students didn't know what to do to minimise the risk of a gas explosion and 58% of landlords had not provided them with a gas safety certificate for the gas appliances in their home. So as the new term begins, students moving away from home are being reminded of the importance of gas safety.
Alan added: "With nearly 20% of students saying they would turn to Dr Karl Kennedy if they had an emergency, I can help students find out what to do and who to call if they smell gas.
Students should remember these five simple tips if they smell gas:
- Don't smoke or light matches
- Don't turn electrical switches on or of
- Do open doors and windows
- Turn off the meter at the control valve (unless the smell of gas and the meter are in the cellar, as often this will need a light to be turned on)
- Call the free 24 hour national gas emergency number 0800 111 999* whether the smell is inside or outside the property.
*Calls are recorded and may be monitored
It is equally important to be able to recognise a faulty gas appliance which could be leaking deadly carbon monoxide gas. If the pilot light blows out easily or there is a lazy yellow/orange flame instead of a blue flame, the appliance may be emitting carbon monoxide gas and must be checked by a Gas Safe Registered engineer. Students should ask their landlord for an annual gas safety certificate to prove the appliances have been checked and are in good working order.
National Grid has launched a new "National Grid Student Union" website on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/National-Grid-Student-Union/171066440020, where Alan appears in exclusive video clips giving his top tips for students to stay safe and have fun while at University. Messages will also be communicated across student radio stations, student union websites, bespoke emails, and sent direct to students' mobile phones.
Alan will also be meeting many students in person this autumn as he tours universities with his band.
To find out more and get simple advice and top tips on their mobile phones, students can text 'Grid' to 60707. They will also be entered into a prize draw to win a year's free rent! Or they can log on to Facebook and join the National Grid Student Union for a chance to win a trip to one of next year's summer music festivals.
Alan said: "National Grid's research has highlighted the need to promote gas safety and carbon monoxide awareness to students. Although student life is about having fun, with many thousands of students living in rented accommodation it is vital they are made aware of the dangers of CO poisoning which can be fatal. These symptoms include nausea, headaches, dizziness and shortness of breath; a bit like a really bad hangover.
By making students aware of National Grid's gas safety campaign and giving out some simple top tips, their actions can save lives.
Mark Fairbairn, National Grid's Executive Director, Gas Distribution added: "We're taking action to tackle a potentially deadly issue by raising awareness.
Through the campaign we are looking to target up to a million students with the start of the new term, and we hope as many as possible will visit the National Grid Student Union on Facebook to get life-saving advice and some fun tips from Alan Fletcher.