It’s Gas Safety Week 2015 and we’re showing our support for another year! This year we’re focusing on students who are moving in to their new homes and halls of residence at university. For many this will be the first time they’ve lived away from their family home and won’t be aware of dangers of gas and carbon monoxide, so here is our advice on how to be gas safe at university.

What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless, tasteless gas that is produced by carbon based fuels such as gas, oil, wood and coal. These fuels are safe to use, it’s only when the fuel does not burn correctly that excess CO is produces, which is poisonous and can kill quickly.

Approximately 4,000 people visit hospital every year with CO symptoms. The main signs include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Breathlessness
  • Collapsing
  • Passing out

If you are suffering from these symptoms (you should go to hospital immediately if you collapse or pass out), go outside and get some fresh air. If symptoms improve then you could have a problem with CO poisoning. Make sure you that you also check those who live with you and any pets you have.

Know the signs

Poisoning occurs when gas appliances haven’t been properly installed, maintained of poorly ventilated. The following signs on your gas appliances can indicate that there could be a problem which could lead to the production of CO:

  • Yellow or orange rather than blue flames (not including fuel fires or flueless appliances which display this colour flame)
  • Soot or yellow/brown staining around or on appliances
  • Pilot light that blows out
  • Increased condensation inside windows

Your landlord’s responsibilities

Your landlord is required by law to ensure that your boiler is serviced and that there is a Gas Safety Check once a year. These yearly checks will make sure that your appliances are working properly, inspect parts (such as pilot light and burners) and repair any gas leaks. These checks are vital as they not only ensure your boiler is working efficiently, they will work towards protecting you and those who live with you from carbon monoxide poisoning.

No matter how long the tenancy is, your landlord is required to:

  • Maintain pipework, appliances and flues provided for your use in a safe condition
  • Carry out a 12 monthly gas safety check on each gas appliance/flue. A gas safety check will make sure gas fittings and appliances are safe to use
  • Provide you with a record of the annual gas safety check within 28 days of the check being completed or if you’re a new tenant before you move in. If a property or room is hired out for less than 28 days at a time, it is also permissible for your landlord to display a copy of the current Landlords Gas Safety Record in a prominent position within the property
  • Install a carbon monoxide and a smoke alarm (from October 2015 landlords can be fined up to £5,000 if they do not have them installed)

Please note – it is not your landlords responsibility to maintain your own personal gas appliances.

Is your boiler faulty?

It’s important to not just rely on your annual service to protect you and your home. Be aware of the warning signs of a faulty boiler – if you recognise any of these signs call your local gas engineer as soon as possible for advice:

  • Smoke or soot stains appear on or near the appliance
  • A yellow or irregular flame
  • The pilot light frequently goes out
  • You have very little hot water or the temperature isn’t as hot as it should be
  • The boiler is making noises it shouldn’t

If you think that your appliance is spilling carbon monoxide:

  • Call the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999
  • Switch off the appliance and shut off the gas supply at the meter control valve
  • Open all doors and windows
  • Visit your GP (emergency) and tell them you think you may have been exposed

We hope that you find this advice useful! If you would like to find out more about Gas Safety Week 2015 please visit the website.