Staying gas safe

older couple sitting in front of a gas safe applianceRoyal Voluntary Service and Gas Safe Register are working together to raise awareness about gas safety and the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning amongst the over 65s.

Gas Safe Register is the official register of gas engineers legally allowed to work on gas appliances in the home and workplace.

We hope that older people, their carers and families, find this guide useful. Download a copy of I’m staying gas safe or print this page to give to someone you know or use the share button on the right of this page.

If you smell gas or think there may be a gas leak:

  • turn off the gas at the meter
  • put out any naked flames
  • open windows
  • call the 24 hour gas emergency number on: 0800 111 999

To have a chat about gas safety call the Gas Safe Register FREE helpline on 0800 408 5500

Check ID

Gas Safe Register ID cardYou can find a Gas Safe registered engineer on the Gas Safe Register (formerly known as CORGI). All Gas Safe registered engineers carry an ID card. All gas work is different and the back of the card tells you which specific jobs your engineer is qualified to do. Check:

  • the licence number
  • the start and expiry date of registration
  • the security hologram.

If you’re still not sure call Gas Safe Register FREE on 0800 408 5500 and they’ll be pleased to help.

Service your appliances

You should service your gas appliances every 12 months so you know that:

  • the appliance is positioned in the right place
  • the appliance is burning correctly and not producing carbon monoxide 
  • harmful gases are safely removed from the appliance to the air outside 
  • ventilation routes are clear 
  • safety devices are working.

If you’ve had gas work done in the last six months you can nominate if for a free gas safety inspection.

Check

Crisp blue flameYou can check for signs that your gas is not working properly. You should call for help if:

  • the appliance burns with a lazy yellow flame (a healthy flame is crisp blue as illustrated) 
  • You can see soot, black marks or staining on or around your gas appliances 
  • the pilot light keeps going out 
  • there is a lot of condensation on the windows.

Ensure

unobstructed flueAll gas appliances are properly ventilated by:

  • keeping flues, chimneys and air vents clear to allow the appliances to work
  • having the chimney swept if you have a gas, coal, wood or peat burning fire, no matter how often or little it is used 
  • checking chimneys and flues for bird’s nests, leaves and other natural debris to make sure nothing is blocking the exit 
  • agreeing a date with a neighbour to get shared flues or chimneys checked every year.

Be aware

Be aware of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning:

symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

    Be aware of the health effects of carbon monoxide poisoning:

    • carbon monoxide poisoning occurs when you breathe in even small amounts of the gas
    • carbon monoxide gets into your blood stream and prevents your red blood cells from carrying oxygen. Without oxygen, your body tissue and cells die
    • levels of carbon monoxide that do not kill can cause serious harm to health when breathed in over a long period of time 
    • long term effects of carbon monoxide poisoning include paralysis and brain damage.

    Such long term effects occur because many people are unaware of unsafe gas appliances and subsequent carbon monoxide poisoning.

    Get back-up

    carbon monoxide detector and alarmBecause carbon monoxide has no taste, smell or colour, a carbon monoxide alarm will:

    • give an audible warning which will help to ensure you are alerted even when asleep
    • looks similar to a smoke detector and is easy to fit.

    Before purchasing a carbon monoxide alarm, make sure it is officially approved to BS:EN50291:2001 or 2010 and has a British or European approval mark on it, such as a Kitemark.

    But

    While an alarm will alert you to carbon monoxide in your home, it is no substitute for using a Gas Safe registered engineer to ensure your appliances are serviced properly.

    If you rent your home, your landlord has to have the gas appliances safety checked and serviced once a year by law. For proof of this annual check, your landlord must, by law, give you a copy of the Landlord’s Gas Safety Record.

    Visit gassaferegister.co.uk for information and advice about gas safety for the elderly or carbonmonoxidesafety.org.ukGas Safe logos

    Please exercise your common sense when considering this guide and whether to take any of the steps that may be suggested in it. Whilst we have taken reasonable care to ensure that any factual information is accurate and complete, most of the information in this guide is based on our views and opinions (and sometimes the views and opinions of the people or organisations we work with). As a result, we cannot make any promises about the accuracy or the completeness of the information and we don’t accept any responsibility for the results of your reliance on it.

    Working together

    Working in partnership with Gas Safe Register enables us to help more older people throughout the country and strengthens the work we do.

    Find out more 

    Find out how we can help

    If you know a family member, friend or neighbour who is lonely or isolated, find out how your local Royal Voluntary Service can help.

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