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Millions of homeowners put their lives at risk by leaving gas safety on the back burner

As Gas Safety Week approaches, new research from British Gas has highlighted that one in four homeowners across Britain could be putting their lives at risk, because they have not carried out a safety check on their gas appliances in the past twelve months.

All gas appliances in the home need to be safety checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer annually and serviced according to manufacturer’s instructions.  Gas safety checks pick up a range of problems including faulty boilers, and are vital in helping to prevent gas leaks, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Exposure to carbon monoxide can be fatal and can cause long-term health problems including brain damage. The main sources of exposure to the gas in the home are faulty gas boilers or heaters. Despite this danger, more than a fifth of homeowners (22%) said that an annual safety check of gas appliances is a low priority in relation to other household bills such as maintenance costs.

According to the independent national research* nearly half of homeowners (47%) who have not had their gas appliances safety checked in the past twelve months admit the last check was carried out more than two or three years ago, or cannot remember when the last check was as it was more than three years ago.

The survey findings highlight why some homeowners are putting annual gas safety checks on a back burner. Nearly three in ten are unaware of any health risks associated with not undertaking the annual check, or do not believe that it is life threatening.

Carbon monoxide is known as the ‘silent killer’, because the gas is odourless, has no taste and is invisible. However, nearly a fifth of homeowners (19%) incorrectly think that their senses would warn them of exposure to the deadly gas. Furthermore, more than a third (37%) of home-owning adults do not know the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Fitting an audible carbon monoxide alarm is the second line of defence against carbon monoxide poisoning. Although they can easily be purchased, three in ten homeowners do not have one installed in their home, or do not know if they do.

British Gas engineer Sheena Anker commented:  “I’ve visited homes and seen unsafe gas appliances which either haven’t been serviced or safety checked in years, or have been installed by unqualified gas fitters. As our research shows, people are often oblivious to the danger they are in.

“Getting a Gas Safe registered engineer to undertake an annual safety check of your gas appliances, along with making sure that you have an audible carbon monoxide alarm, is essential and could save your life.”

TV Doctor Sarah Jarvis said: “Exposure to even a small amount of carbon monoxide can cause poisoning, and long-term effects can include paralysis and brain damage. It’s critical for people to take the necessary precautions to avoid exposure to the gas and to be aware of the six main symptoms to look out for: headaches, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness, collapse or loss of consciousness.

“If you do suspect carbon monoxide poisoning you should get fresh air immediately, open doors and windows, turn off gas appliances and urgently seek medical advice from your GP or hospital.”

British Gas’ research highlights where homeowners are least likely to have had their gas appliances safety checked in the past twelve months, with Wales topping the danger list.



Percentage of people who have not had their gas appliances checked in the past 12 months



Yorkshire and the Humber


East/East Anglia


West Midlands




North West


East Midlands




South East


South West


North East



  * Northern Ireland excluded due to size of sample

Carbon monoxide poisoning: What are the symptoms?

  • The signs of carbon monoxide poisoning can be similar to the flu: headaches, nausea, dizziness and feeling generally lethargic.
  •  Look out for cold-like symptoms that seem to get better when you leave the area. 
  • If you think you or someone in your family might have carbon monoxide poisoning, get in touch with your doctor immediately.

How can I tell if my appliance is leaking carbon monoxide?

  •  Look for stains, soot or discolouration on (or around) your boiler, fire or water heater.
  •  Make sure there are no blockages in your chimney or flue.
  •  Keep the air vents in your doors, walls and windows clear.
  •  Check the pilot light on your boiler (and any other gas flames that normally burn blue). If the flame is yellow or orange, you might have a carbon monoxide leak.
  •  If you notice anything wrong, stop using the appliance immediately, open windows and doors to ventilate your home and call the Gas Emergency Services Helpline on 0800 111 999 (24hrs). You should also seek medical advice.


Notes to editors

British Gas has more than 8,000 Gas Safe registered engineers who serve more than four million homes across the country, helping to provide support when things go wrong in the home – such as broken boilers, faulty electrics or leaking pipes.

Gas Safety Week takes place from 18th-24th September 2017.


The research was undertaken by Atomik Research on behalf of British Gas between 1st-6th September 2017, on a sample of 2,003 homeowners with gas appliances in accordance with MRS guidelines and regulations.

For more information contact:

Bieneosa Ebite
Senior PR Manager
British Gas
01784 84 3000

British Gas is Britain’s leading energy and services company, serving more than 10 million homes and over 400,000 businesses across the country. More than 8,000 highly-trained engineers guarantee the highest quality of service for our residential and business customers. We also provide a range of innovative offers and services including connected home Hive™ products, smart meters, and the online tradesman service, Local Heroes.

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