Gas can be deadly when it's in the hands of cowboy workmen and untrained DIY enthusiasts. And for this reason, there is strict legislation around its use. Only accredited engineers on the Gas Safe Register may work safely - and legally - with gas appliances (which replaced CORGI registration.)
The dangers of poorly installed or serviced gas appliances include leaks, fires, explosions - and carbon monoxide poisoning, which can be fatal, and is extremely difficult to detect.
So, other than using accredited engineers for installation and maintenance of boilers, fires, cookers and other gas appliances, how can we ensure that gas is being used safely in our homes?
Firstly, make sure that your engineer has his or her Gas Safe Register ID card present when they come to work in your home. This will show their licence number, and explain the type of work they are qualified to carry out. You can find out more about this on the Gas Safe website.
Also, get your appliances safety checked and serviced every year, by an accredited engineer. If your appliance isn't safe, the engineer will follow a carefully defined process to rectify the problem. You can also carry out regular and interim checks yourself for warning signs, such as a lazy yellow flame on a burner, instead of a crisp blue flame, black stains around the appliance or an excess of condensation in the room. Remember to to only use gas appliances for their purpose - don't use a gas hob top to heat a room for example.
Install a carbon monoxide alarm close to your gas appliances, which will sound if this poisonous gas is being leaked into your home. Symptoms include drowsiness, breathlessness, dizziness, headaches, nausea and collapse, and the gas has no odour. These alarms are widely available from DIY stores or supermarkets.
Remember too, that gas leaks must be reported by law. If you suspect a leak or notice signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, be sure to act fast and call the National Gas Emergency number on 0800 111 999.