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Gas safety confusion causes vulnerability

Confusion amongst carers about the signs of unsafe gas appliances could be putting vulnerable people at risk. This is according to research released by Gas Safe Register. The findings are particularly worrying as new data from the Register reveals that one in five UK homes contains unsafe gas appliances such as cookers, fires and boilers.

The research involved 2,001 people who care for or check in on an elderly or disabled loved one who doesn’t live with them. Three quarters (75 per cent) of these said safety was a key reason for checking in on their vulnerable loved one. Yet 92 per cent don’t know at least one of the crucial signs that a gas appliance is unsafe.

Over half (54 per cent) don’t know that a lazy yellow flame on appliances such as cookers is a warning sign. Over three quarters (76 per cent) were unaware that increased condensation inside windows is a red flag, and over half (55 per cent) didn’t know to look out for sooty stains on or around appliances such as cookers.

There is also evidence of confusion around the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. Almost half (49 per cent) of respondents didn’t know that breathlessness is a symptom, over a third (38 per cent) were unaware that nausea can be a sign of poisoning and (32 per cent) were unaware that headaches can mean an appliance is emitting carbon monoxide.

The survey also revealed the extent to which vulnerable people may not be protected by an audible carbon monoxide alarm. A fifth (20 per cent) of those surveyed said they weren’t sure if the person they care for has an audible carbon monoxide alarm and, more worryingly, 17 per cent said they know their loved one doesn’t have one.

This Gas Safety Week (September 16-22 2019), Gas Safe Register is urging people to protect themselves and their loved ones by familiarising themselves with the signs and symptoms of unsafe gas appliances.

The key signs are:

  • Floppy yellow or orange flames on gas appliances, such as cookers, instead of a bright blue one 
  • Increased condensation inside windows
  • The pilot light repeatedly going out or the boiler fails to light 
  • Black or sooty marks on or around your gas appliances 
  • Feeling unwell – the six main symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are: headaches, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness, collapse and loss of consciousness

To help raise awareness, the Register has partnered with children’s author, Sophy Henn, to create a short story based on the original ‘Bad Nana’ series,’ Bad Nana: Better Gas Safe Than Sorry’.

Jonathan Samuel, chief executive, Gas Safe Register said: “Those who look after others care deeply about their safety and wellbeing and feel a lot of responsibility. We don’t want to add to the list of things to worry about, but we want to raise awareness of the signs of unsafe appliances. Unsafe appliances can be deadly and knowing the warning signs can protect you and your loved ones from harm.”

Sophy Henn said: “I’m delighted to be working with Gas Safe Register. My hope is that this book will entertain children, parents, grandparents and carers alike, while at the same time spreading an important message about gas safety.”

19 September 2019

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