In the run-up to Gas Safety Week 2013 (16-20th September), gas servicing and maintenance contractor, BHE Services (Bolton) Limited, is urging families in Bolton and the North West to make themselves better aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning otherwise known as ‘The Silent Killer’
In recent years, the company has witnessed countless instances of hazardous makeshift repairs and decorating shortcuts that could have had fatal consequences.
To drive its message home, BHE Services (Bolton) Limited has created exhibits of some real-life examples of potentially life-threatening blunders and is taking these exhibits into schools and people’s homes.
Paul Wilkinson, Operations Director of BHE Services (Bolton) Limited, said: “A number of the threats on display have clearly occurred as a result of simple forgetfulness or poor maintenance – such as rusty gas fire burners that have never been serviced, or unlined chimneys that allowed fumes back into the living space.
“However, the exhibits also show examples of deliberate DIY bodges that could ultimately have killed the occupants of the home in question.”
Some of the offending items include:
A plastic drinks bottle pushed into an air duct to block it
Cling film used to cover over a wall vent
An air duct covered by wallpaper, with the plastic grille then replaced over it
Debris blocking the flue behind a gas fire
BHE Services (Bolton) Limited will use the exhibits to alert homeowners and tenants to the risks posed by blocked vents and poorly serviced appliances.
“We are organising a series of displays as part of Gas Safety Week because it’s clear that the message about carbon monoxide still hasn’t got through to everyone,” said Mr Wilkinson.
He added: “Each year, carbon monoxide kills numerous people, and it puts more than 300 in hospital, but there is still a great deal of ignorance about it. Communities are comparatively well informed about fire risks and they’ll have seen various public advertisements about the importance of fitting a smoke alarm but, from what our engineers have seen when they’ve been out visiting homeowners and local authority tenants, awareness of carbon monoxide is an entirely different story."
He went on: “Carbon monoxide is odourless and invisible, so if it’s accumulating within a building, the occupants won’t get any obvious warning. There are symptoms that can be watched out for, such as lethargy, headaches, dizziness and nausea, but because these are easily confused with those of common illnesses such as colds, flu or stomach upsets, they are easy to ignore and easy to misdiagnose."
“A carbon monoxide alarm, on the other hand, is much more reliable, very simple to use and extremely cheap, so there’s absolutely no reason why every home shouldn’t have one.”
Gas Safe – the official independent body for gas safety in the UK – has produced an informative video entitled Anne’s Story, which movingly illustrates the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and poorly fitted appliances. The video can be found on the organisation’s dedicated YouTube channel.
Safety tips and other public information about Gas Safety Week can be found on the Gas Safe Register website.
BHE Services (Bolton) Limited gives regular carbon monoxide safety awareness presentations to building professionals and other groups including tenants of local authority and housing association properties. More about BHE Services here
By law, only Gas Safe registered engineers can work on gas. With a quarter of a million illegal gas jobs carried out every year by cowboys who do not have the skills or the qualifications to do the job safely, the public are being reminded, as part of Gas Safety Week, to check that the engineer they are using is registered. The only way to do this is to ask for the Gas Safe ID card.
Gas Safety Week also hopes to encourage residents to get their appliances safety checked at least annually. If left untouched, poorly serviced gas appliances can cause gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. In the last year alone, 333 people were injured and four people died as a result of gas related incidents.
Residents in Bolton are being strongly encouraged to follow these simple checks to keep them and their family gas safe:
Check your gas appliances every year. Gas appliances should be safety checked once a year and serviced regularly by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Tenants: make sure your landlord arranges this.
Check your engineer’s Gas Safe Register ID card. Make sure they are qualified for the work you need doing. You can find this information on the back of the card.
Check for warning signs your appliances aren’t working correctly, such as lazy yellow or orange flames instead of crisp blue ones, black marks on or around the appliance and too much condensation in the room.
Check you know the six signs of carbon monoxide poisoning – headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, nausea, collapse and loss of consciousness.
Check you have an audible carbon monoxide alarm. This will alert you if there is carbon monoxide in your home.
Further information call BHE Services (Bolton) Limited on 01204 450 450.
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