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I can smell gas. What do I do?

I can smell gas. What do I do?

According to the Gas Safe Register, a staggering one in 25 families in the UK are in ‘immediate danger’ from a gas-related incident. Here we explain what to do if you ever smell gas in your home, and how to prevent an emergency occurring. 

Peter Earl
From the Energy team
minute read
posted 7 FEBRUARY 2020

I think I smell gas – what do I do?

If you think you smell a gas leak, it’s important to take action right away:

  • Make sure your home is well ventilated. Open all doors and windows.
  • Turn off your gas supply. Unless your gas meter is in the cellar, in which case, don’t enter.
  • Don’t use any switches or appliances. And avoid using naked flames, until your home’s been given the all-clear.
  • Head outside and call the National Gas Emergencies number on 0800 111 999. It’s important not to head back indoors until you’ve had the okay from a certified gas professional.

What does gas smell like?

Gas is actually completely odourless. But, in order to make a leak detectable, mercaptan (a pungent, yet harmless, gas) is added to it. Mercaptan smells like rotten eggs, rotten cabbage; some even say old socks. 

Why are gas leaks so dangerous?

Gas leaks are dangerous because they can cause carbon monoxide poisoning – as well as fires and explosions – if left unchecked.

What causes gas leaks?

Poorly installed, faulty, or old gas appliances are the main cause of gas leaks. As well as ones that aren’t regularly maintained.

What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

The symptoms to watch out for include:

  • a dull headache
  • fatigue
  • dizziness, nausea and vomiting
  • blurred vision
  • confusion
  • shortness of breath and loss of consciousness

If your boiler has a sooty coating on the casing or surrounding area, and a yellow/orange pilot flame, this could be a sign of carbon monoxide.

How common are gas-related incidents in the UK?

The UK’s Carbon Monoxide and Gas Safety Society estimates that gas-related incidents claim upwards of 36 lives every year, and cause around 260 injuries.

And, according to a review of domestic gas safety, the homes most at risk from a gas-related incident are the ones that are owner-occupied.

In rented properties, the landlord is responsible for ensuring safe installation and regular maintenance of gas appliances.

How can I prevent a gas-related incident in my home?

Above all else, make sure your gas appliances are fitted by a Gas Safe engineer, who you can find on the Gas Safe Register.

Regular maintenance should also be carried out by a certified gas professional, to keep your appliances safe.

And you can buy a gas detector alarm that’s designed to alert you to a gas leak.

Finally, if you’re living in a rented property, make sure your landlord provides you with a gas safety certificate.

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