What carers need to know about gas safety
Many people find themselves at some point being a carer for an elderly or sick family member, or a partner. If you’re visiting them regularly to care for them, what should you be checking out for to make sure that their gas boiler and appliances are safe?
It’s something that we rarely think about. Millions of us use gas boilers and appliances every day, and we’re used to them being very easy and convenient. And if everything was installed by a properly qualified installer, they’re likely to be fine. But poorly fitted and badly maintained gas equipment can create the risk of gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning.
If you’re regularly visiting someone to care for them, here are a number of things to consider to keep them gas safe.
First, make sure that they get their gas boiler and appliances checked once a year. Annual services mean that the heating and hot water will be reliably working when they need it, and it helps to keep them safe from any gas problems.
Second, if they’re feeling unwell at all, check whether they have any of the following symptoms: headaches, nausea, dizziness, breathlessness, collapse or loss of consciousness. If they do, do they feel better when they leave the house? These are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, and if they appear you should get them checked by a doctor without delay. You can often get clues if the gas boiler or an appliance is producing carbon monoxide. Look at the gas pilot light in the boiler (if it’s an older one), or the gas flame on the cooker. The flame should be blue. A weak yellow or orange flame may be a sign that it’s not working properly. As may dark staining around an appliance, or a build-up of condensation in the room where the boiler or appliance is located. If you suspect an appliance is faulty, you should turn the gas off and contact a Gas Safe engineer immediately. If you’re not on gas, but on heating oil instead, you should be aware that carbon monoxide can still be a problem, so keep an eye open regardless.
Third, if the person you’re caring for is renting their home, be aware that the landlord is legally responsible for ensuring that gas heating and appliances are safe. They should be arranging a gas safety check every year, and providing evidence of this by providing a copy of the record. This week, it’s Gas Safety Week, an initiative that has been running for the last ten years to encourage the spread of information to help people remain gas safe.
It’s why there is a Gas Safe Register, with an official list of gas engineers who are qualified to work on gas installations. All such engineers carry a Gas Safe ID card, which you should ask to see.
Caring for a loved one is already a big responsibility – knowing these few simple details can be a life saver with just the smallest amount of vigilance.