Summer is here, and barbecue season is in full swing.
Outdoor gas appliances including gas barbecues and patio heaters are being used in gardens up and down the country often with no awareness to the dangers involved. Despite being extremely attentive when it comes to gas safety within their home, homeowners seem to be oblivious to the dangers associated with outdoor appliances.
In the heating industry it is common knowledge that carbon monoxide poisoning and gas safety issues continue during the summer. Between May and September 2014, the gas emergency service provider attended 30,000 dangerous incidents, including gas leaks, fires, minor explosions and over 9,500 cases related to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. There have also been a shocking number of deaths due to the lack of awareness about carbon monoxide when camping.
A large majority of these deaths have been children, leaving parents and families devastated after what should have been an enjoyable camping trip. We as installers know more than anyone how lethal this can be but there is a big lack of awareness from the public and no regulation which is a big concern.
I have spoken to many installers who, like myself, feel ignored by industry. Sometimes, installers come across tragic cases; they know things aren’t right with the gas industry but feel powerless to do anything about it. However, there is so much gas installers can do to help improve public awareness of safety issues. It really is down to the installer to take on the responsibility of educating customers to safeguard themselves against carbon monoxide poisoning and other gas related incidents. Helping to raise awareness will add value to your installer business and help raise your professional status too. In such competitive times it is important to stand out in a crowded marketplace and go that extra mile for the customer.
I believe it is vital that ALL employees are briefed on safety. It is a good idea to suggest that customers carry out a visual inspection of their barbecue before use – if something doesn’t look right they shouldn’t use it – e.g. if it’s cracked or damaged, or if the hoses are in poor condition. It is also important to remind customers of the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning – headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, nausea, collapse and loss of consciousness. If in doubt, we tell them to switch off the barbecue and remove themselves from the area immediately.
7 top tips to help customers stay safe when using gas appliances this summer:
- Barbecues, if not maintained correctly or portable barbecues that are faulty can be lethal, especially if they are used in an enclosed space. Undertake an annual service and safety inspection to ensure all is as it should be (like you would your normal boiler).
- If you have problems with your gas barbecue, don’t try and fix it yourself – call a gas safe registered engineer.
- Make sure your barbecue is on a flat service on ground level, where it isn’t in danger of tipping over.
- Never leave the barbecue unattended.
- Never use petrol or paraffin on a gas barbecue – just use approved barbecue fuel.
- Even if you have finished cooking, your BBQ should remain outside as it will still give off fumes for some hours after use. In recent years there have been a number of fatalities and injuries as a result of people bringing BBQ’s into enclosed spaces (such as tents whilst camping) and being overcome by carbon monoxide.
- Patio heaters can also be a huge safety risk – ensure these are maintained by undertaking an annual service and safety inspection.