Gas safety confusion puts vulnerable people at risk

  • Gas Safe Register calls on people to protect themselves and loved ones by getting clued up on gas safety
  • 1 in 5 homes in UK have unsafe gas appliances, according to latest UK inspection figures
  • Renowned Bad Nana author, Sophy Henn, creates new book to boost gas safety awareness and understanding

Confusion amongst carers about the signs of unsafe gas appliances could be putting vulnerable people at risk. This is according to research released today by Gas Safe Register. The findings are particularly worrying as new data from the Register reveals that 1 in 5 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%) of these said safety was a key reason for checking in on their vulnerable loved one. Yet 92% don’t know at least one of the crucial signs that a gas appliance is unsafe.

Over half (54%) don’t know that a lazy yellow flame on appliances such as cookers is a warning sign. Over three quarters (76%) were unaware that increased condensation inside windows is a red flag, and over half (55%) 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%) of respondents didn’t know that breathlessness is a symptom, over a third (38%) were unaware that nausea can be a sign of poisoning and (32%) 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%) of those surveyed said they weren’t sure if the person they care for has an audible carbon monoxide alarm and, more worryingly, 17% said they know their loved one doesn’t have one.

This Gas Safety Week (16-22 September 2019), Gas Safe Register – the UK’s official registration body for gas engineers and gas businesses - 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 best-selling children’s author, Sophy Henn, to create a short story based on the original ‘Bad Nana’ series,’ Bad Nana: Better Gas Safe Than Sorry’. The book sees Jeanie aged 7 ¾, and her annoying little brother Jack help her nan (aka Bad Nana) save a neighbour from carbon monoxide poisoning, after spotting the signs and symptoms. The book’s aim is to bring the issue to the attention of families and the people they care for, all delivered with Sophy’s signature dose of fun.

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. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, but Bad Nana and Jeanie have a very eventful day when they check on an elderly friend who has been behaving strangely. 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.”

The Better Safe Than Sorry book is available to download from the Gas Safety Week website, along with further information about gas safety and details of how to ensure the gas work on your home is safe.

Gas Safe Register is the official list of gas businesses who are registered to work safely and legally on boilers, cookers, fires and all other gas appliances. By law all gas engineers must be on the Gas Safe Register.