Here you can find the latest news from Gas Safe and from various other media outlets.
We have found some worrying news courtesy of Heating and Plumbing Monthly magazine.
Shocking new data has revealed that cases of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning are rising, despite the efforts of campaigners to encourage people to protect themselves with an alarm.
Recent Freedom of Information requests have shown a near ten per cent rise in recorded incidents of suspected CO poisoning at NHS Trusts across the UK, with the young and elderly most affected. Worryingly, cases of CO poisoning in children were up by 20% and cases among the over 60s had increased by 17%.
The data obtained by Project SHOUT, a campaign group designed to raise awareness of the dangers of CO, measured recorded cases year-on-year from July 2014 to June 2016.
The total number of incidents topped 2,430 in 2015/16 (compared to 2,220 the previous year), with an average of six people attending A&E every single day with suspected CO poisoning. With a lack of understanding around the symptoms of CO poisoning, and its similarity to the symptoms of flu, these figures could be conservative.
Rob Lyon, campaign director for Project SHOUT, said: “These numbers are very concerning, particularly the rise in cases among the most vulnerable, namely children and the elderly. CO poisoning can only be detected by an alarm as you can’t see, smell or taste it. Children and older people are particularly at risk because their bodies are more susceptible and in the case of some older people, are less likely to keep their appliances serviced.”
In October 2015, legislation came into force that required private landlords to fit a CO alarm in every property that had a solid fuel burning appliance, such as an open fire or log burner. The legislation, however, does not cover gas appliances, such as a gas boiler or gas hob.
Approximately 50 people die each year from CO poisoning, all of which can be prevented by fitting an alarm.
Did you know that if you leave the casing off your boiler, you are leaving yourself open to the potential of CO Poisoning?
Following on from Monday’s article ‘Potential Christmas Heating Problems’ while reading the trade magazines I have seen an article titled ‘Family of five suffer CO Poisoning’.
Following an investigation, a Health and Safety Executive stated ‘This case demonstrates that where gas safety testing is not undertaken, tenants can be exposed to the products of combustion, including CO, which in the most serious cases can result in death’.
This is the story of the tenants:
The tenants returned home and turned on the heating. The casing for the boiler was not in place as it had been removed to re-light the boiler as the ignition button was not working.
The tenants were not aware of the risks created by leaving the casing off.
Later that evening five residents fell ill and were taken to hospital with CO poisoning.
This story and many like it show just how important it is that domestic landlords understand and more importantly meet their legal obligations to make sure that the gas appliances in their tenanted properties are serviced and checked by a Gas Safe Registered Engineer annually for safety.
When we service a boiler or carry out a gas safety inspection, we record this information and give you a call a couple of weeks before the anniversary the following year and ask if you would like us to do the same work again this year. There is no obligation, but it means that you don’t need to worry about ensuring that your safety checks are carried out annually, keeping you on the right side of the law.
Over the Christmas period we all spend a lot of time together and often in ours or a friend of family member’s house. We have the TV and/or the radio playing, we also put on the fire, the boiler and the oven/hob. We also often have the windows closed to keep us all warm and snug.
Reading this, as a family, we see a lovely family Christmas, as a heating company, we see the potential for problems.
With all those appliances running, which are gas? The boiler The oven/hob? The fire? Have you considered servicing them? Do you have a CO Alarm
We all prepare for Christmas by wrapping our presents and buying chocolates and lots of good food and drink, but have you thought to add a gas appliance service?
We still have a few appointments left before Christmas if you would like us to test your appliances, or at the very least, get a CO Alarm (although an alarm is not a substitute for maintaining and regularly servicing household appliances, it’s a way to know if there are any problems) and call us in the New Year to check your appliances. You may then not have family over, but you will still be living in your property.
In case you don’t have your appliances tested and do have any problems, please read the link HERE from the NHS website.
We all know we can trust Which?, they’ve been around testing products and services and making sure we all get the best deals for years.
They now have a service where they vet Tradespeople and, if after rigorous testing they are happy for them to become a Which? Trusted Trader, they will advise people to go to them as they will get a professional and fair service.
In their own words Which? say ‘Which? is the UKs leading expert in putting products and services to the test in ways that are truly rigorous and independent.
And that’s exactly what we’ve done to help you find a range of local traders you can rely on. Every single trader in the handy directory has been put to the test and passed our rigorous assessment process.
So whether you need a plumber, electrician, or a roofer, finding a trader who’s up to the mark couldn’t be easier.’
So, if you want to find a trusted trader, then please click the linkwww.whichtrustedtraders.co.uk
There are customer reviews, photos of previous work and information on how to hire a trader.
We are a Which? Trusted Trader – you may have received the ‘little red book’ through your door.
Are you managing to hold off turning on the heating for a while longer?
Before you feel you really need your heating, just try turning it on.
If, when you test it you find you have problems, give us a call and get it sorted out before it gets really cold and you really need it.
Why? Because of an unmaintained and incorrectly installed Gas appliance
Yesterday the Television News & Newspapers reported on the trial of Thomas Cook for the deaths of Bobby and Christi Shepherd aged just six and seven, in a bungalow at the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel, Corfu.
On the third day of the holiday, Christi felt ‘unwell’ and Bobby tripped and fell after feeling dizzy. That evening their Dad, Neil Shepherd and his now wife, Ruth, put the children to bed at 11.30pm. During the night, they heard Christi crying and Bobby whimpering, they went to their bedroom and checked them, but cannot remember anything else until they woke up in hospital.
The following morning, the Chambermaid had gone to the room and found the children with the adults slumped by them. Neil and Ruth were in a coma and close to death, but recovered after emergency treatment in hospital, however, both children died.
Tests showed the family had suffered carbon monoxide poisoning.
The couple who stayed in that same bungalow immediately before them had also become ill during their holiday, they were taken to hospital, but the diagnosis of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning had been missed.
The cause of this tragedy was the gas-fired hot water boiler which was in an outhouse next to the bedrooms.
The failures found :
*The installer had failed to fit a flue (which would have taken away the deadly fumes).
*There was a water leak and the boiler was covered in rust (meaning the boiler was being over-worked causing a build-up of dangerous gasses).
The rust would have made the leak obvious, but this was not fixed!
*A crucial safety device (designed to cut out the boiler if it overheated) had been deliberately disabled (to save a worker from having to come into work and relight the boiler when it was tripped off)
*A hole cut into the outhouse internal wall for air conditioning pipes (but not resealed around said pipes) had allowed fumes to pass into the bedrooms.
Thomas Cook’s Audit Report in 2004 was incomplete. They had not been vigilant enough and had not even identified the boiler room.
When Thomas Cook’s Chief Executive was invited to apologise, he said “I have nothing to apologise for”, however the staff were found to have failed to carry out the proper monthly health and safety audits’.
It was also found that the staff were not given proper training and so the checks were not carried out correctly.
The Jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing.
Mr & Mrs Shepherd and Bobby and Christi’s Mum and her husband Sharon and Paul Wood, have said that they hope this is the last time they have to go through the painful details but, above all, they hope all the publicity will prevent this happening to another family.
The worrying thing is that a lot of people here in the UK don’t worry about their boilers and believe it will all be okay – if you don’t have your boiler checked annually, you don’t know that it’s safe for you and your family.
You must also check that the person who is doing the checks is someone who IS properly trained and registered with Gas Safe.
The Tour Operator breached their duty of care in the above case, but we all have a duty to ourselves and our families – if you are not happy to have your boiler serviced on an annual basis, please, at least invest in a Carbon Monoxide Alarm – you can pick one of these up for around £20 (make sure you position it correctly by following the package instructions)
Rest in peace Bobby and Christi
If you have any questions about fumes from flues, or if you are aware you have rust in the boiler casing (please do not remove the case on your boiler as this should only be done by a qualified Heating Engineer), this can mean that the chamber in the casing cannot seal properly and so can allow an escape of gasses.
Safety is paramount – please always feel free to call us on 01323 840 569.
The boiler in the Bungalow in Corfu:
The overall rating of 79%, with maximum score in 5 out of 6 categories based on customer scores and engineers views.
For the first time, the Oil boiler range was also highly recommended.
The entire range of Greenstar gas boilers has once again come out on top in the Which? Boiler Report, having been awarded Which? Best Buy for the 6th year running.
The Greenstar range scored 5 stars for reliability, customer satisfaction and build quality as well as achieving the maximum star rating in 5 of the 6 categories.
The annual survey compared 11 brands in total, revealing Worcester to be the most reliable, with boilers remaining fault free longer than all other manufacturers.
The results were calculated from the views of 10,779 owners and for the first time a 110 Which? Trusted Trader heating engineers were surveyed, with responses included only for brands they were not incentivised to install.
A summary of the report noted that Worcester gas appliances offer: “Fantastic build quality and easy to source parts and spares.” It continues, “with extremely reliable products across the range… a Worcester, Bosch Group gas boiler is worthy of its Best Buy status.”
Are you aware of the new Energy Efficiency Directive involving new boilers and new heating systems which will become law on Saturday 26 September 2015?
The Energy related Products Directive (ErP) is a mandatory piece of legislation, proposed by the European Union.
The aim is to bring in minimum standards for heating and hot water systems.
What this means is that, by law, your installer must provide you with an energy label (and explain what it means) whenever a new boiler or heating system is fitted. They are pretty much like the labels you get when you buy a new fridge or washing machine.
The reason for this is so that you can see how efficient your boiler or heating system is.
When you get your new boiler, provided it has been produced since the Directive was put in place, in the box will be an energy label for that boiler. If you add on a smart controller or a cylinder, a new label will need to be produced to cover everything involved.
You will need to keep the label safe with the boiler paperwork because this is an energy rating that will be asked for when it comes to selling your house to prove the efficiency of the property. Your Installer will be able to give this information to you at quoting stage.
The label will most probably not be a sticky label, it may be an A4 page with the rating stats printed on which would be handed over with the rest of the boiler paperwork at completion of the installation, you can also ask for the Rating sheet to be emailed to you.
It is really frustrating that whenever we pick up a trade publication there are people carrying out gas work that are not qualified or registered to, or are doing a very poor job.
Having just looked through one publication, there are straight away two headlines ‘Suspended prison sentences for brothers who carried out poor gas work’ and ‘Gas installer given suspended prison sentence for unsafe gas work’.
This is after many years of the message being out there to check the qualifications of the anyone working in your home. I’m just wondering if we are putting the message out in the wrong places?
Is it that these tradesmen are good at convincing clients that they are fully qualified? Maybe advertising incorrect credentials? Or are the clients not checking the qualifications of these tradesmen? Make sure you are not one of the unlucky people to employ an unqualified tradesman.
If you are going to employ someone to work on the gas in your home and you are in any doubt at all, ask to see their Gas Safe Register Identification Card, if they don’t have it on them, call the Gas Safe Register on 0800 408 5500 and ask them to verify the person.
If you’re not sure what qualifications a tradesman is supposed to have, invite other companies within the same trade to quote for the work and ask them what qualifications they have, honest tradespeople will always be happy to discuss this with you and even give you details of the trade bodies they are members of.
Maybe it’s best to ask someone like the Buy With Confidence Team at Trading Standards or an organisation you are affiliated to like Age UK, if you are looking to have a boiler installed, check with manufacturers ie Worcester as they have a list of Accredited Installers who they train to their standards and they make sure that the tradesmen are fully qualified, or even talk a drive around your local industrial estate, go in to the suppliers shops and ask for advice. An honest tradesperson will help you all they can.
There are many routes that you can take, but at the end of the day, only you know who you want to work in your home, but you really should make sure that they are a trusted tradesperson – it could save yours or a family member’s life.
UK at risk of summer gas dangers
Published 1st June 2015
30,000 gas emergencies last summer
62 carbon monoxide related incidents a day
Gas Safe Register is warning the British public about the dangers of using gas appliances and barbecues during the summer after new research, released today, reveals that every day last summer 189 homes faced a dangerous gas emergency.
Between May and September 2014, the gas emergency service provider National Grid was called out to 30,000 dangerous incidents, which included gas leaks, fires, minor explosions and over 9,500 cases related to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
A new survey among gas consumers, also released today, has found that one in five homeowners (19%) said they do not use gas boilers at all during the summer, despite admitting they are still using hot water and cooking on gas appliances. Furthermore, only one in 15 (6%) people said that they would consider CO poisoning a summer health risk.
The Register is concerned that the public is putting itself at risk during the summer by unwittingly believing that as their heating is turned off they are not using their boiler and therefore not thinking about staying gas safe.
The research also revealed that a third of people say they use a gas barbecue on a weekly basis during the summer, further exposing themselves to potential gas dangers.
Badly fitted and poorly maintained gas appliances can cause serious harm. Gas barbecues, and even portable barbecues, can be just as dangerous as unmaintained gas appliances – if faulty or brought into confined spaces, such as a tent, they can emit deadly levels of CO fumes. In the past three years, 28 people have been killed or injured from CO poisoning after bringing a barbecue into a confined space.
Gas Safe Register has teamed up with NHS Choices, the information website for the NHS, to highlight the dangers faced from poorly maintained gas appliances and barbecues during the summer and to encourage people to recognise the symptoms of CO poisoning. A new safety advice video will feature on the NHS website.
Mother of two, Jade Ullrich, knows only too well the importance of being aware of potential gas dangers during the summer. After moving into a new property in the summer of 2013, Jade, like many other gas consumers, did not find out if the gas appliances had been safety checked. Jade, who was then pregnant, and her family suffered from CO poisoning caused by a poorly maintained gas appliance.
“I feel extremely lucky that my family and I are alive. When we moved in the gas boiler had not been serviced in 18 months, but I was completely unaware of the dangers this posed. It was only after we all started to suffer from extreme dizziness, tiredness and sickness that I thought something could be wrong. I called out a registered engineer who condemned the boiler immediately.”
Jonathan Samuel, managing director of Gas Safe Register said: “It is worrying that so many people are unaware they are still using gas appliances in the summer and are therefore exposed to the dangers. If you don’t know the danger is there, it’s more likely to harm you. With carbon monoxide causing six serious injuries a week it is vital that the public are aware of the warning signs of faulty gas appliances and recognise the symptoms of CO poisoning, which can often be confused with hay fever or a cold.
“The only way to keep your family and homes safe is to make sure you have an annual safety check by a registered engineer and don’t put it off until winter.”
To keep you and your family safe this summer follow Gas Safe Register’s top tips:
Get your gas appliances safety checked this summer by a Gas Safe registered engineer. If you live in rented accommodation your landlord must ensure this is done annually.
Recognise the warning signs that your gas appliances are not working properly including lazy yellow flames and black marks around the appliance.
Know the symptoms of CO poisoning including: severe headaches, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness, collapse and loss of consciousness.
Know how to use barbecues safely – never use a smouldering or lit barbecue (charcoal or gas), gas stove, light or heater in a tent, caravan, room or cabin, or under an awning unless it is a permanent fixture that has been installed and maintained correctly.
Information courtesy of www.GasSafeRegister.co.uk.
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We work for private home owners, private landlords, letting agents and property sales agents.
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