With a team of gas engineers working hard to keep residents across Cornwall safe this winter, Wales & West Utilities - the gas emergency service, is sharing important tips to help local people avoid gas problems spoiling Christmas.

Chris Salmon, Rob Duke and Marc Barden are just three of the team who will be responding to gas emergency call outs from people across Cornwall if they report the smell of gas or suspect the presence of carbon monoxide. Residents making such reports will see Chris, Rob, Marc and their colleagues attend within an hour as Wales & West Utilities works to investigate and make safe gas leaks on the mains network as well as in people’s own homes.

The team also answers calls where people suspect carbon monoxide, the so called ‘silent killer’ because you can’t see, hear or smell it, but it claims the lives of 40 people every year, leaving thousands more injured.

 Marc, who is from Truro has been working for Wales & West Utilities for ten years, he said:

“Myself and the team work hard to respond to the emergency calls in our area that are reported to the National Gas Emergency helpline. Over the last 10 years, we have attended over 40,000 emergency call outs, and over 80 per cent of gas leaks are found to be as a result of people’s own gas appliances.

This is the time of year that temperatures fall and many people switch on their central heating or gas fires for the first time in months – without considering the potentially fatal consequences of an unchecked appliance. However, there are some simple steps that people can follow to help keep themselves safe.

“We are urging people to get their gas boilers and appliances serviced. Blocked chimneys and flues, lack of ventilation and faulty gas appliances, fires and central heating systems are some of the hidden causes of fatalities from poisoning by carbon monoxide, so people should act now to keep safe.”

Each week Wales & West Utilities invests £2 million updating and replacing the mains gas network across Wales and the west of England. Fully prepared for the challenging weather conditions that the winter can bring, the company’s operational engineers are ready to deal with any gas network issues and additional highly trained response engineers are on standby to be called out if required, as well as extra customer facing staff to work extended hours and be available to take calls.

Wales & West Utilities has access to 4×4 multi-terrain vehicles and all of its operational vehicles have winter tyres, to get to remote, snowbound locations.

There are a number of safety checks that gas customers can carry out themselves, including:

  • To make sure gas appliances work safely and don’t let you down in the cold, get them safety checked and serviced regularly - ideally once a year.
  • Always use a Gas Safe registered engineer to work on your gas appliances. Ask for the engineer’s Gas Safe ID card.
  • Look out for signs of carbon monoxide. It is a deadly poisonous gas produced by badly fitted and poorly serviced gas appliances.

    Look out for danger signs including:

  • Gas appliances burning with a lazy yellow or orange flame instead of crisp and blue
  • Increased condensation inside windows
  • Pilot lights blowing out frequently
  • Soot or yellow/brown staining around or on appliances
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms in every room in which there is a gas appliance

Wales & West Utilities provides the gas emergency service across Wales and the south west of England. If anyone smells gas, thinks they have a gas leak, or suspects carbon monoxide poisoning, they should call us on 0800 111 999 and our engineers will be there to help, day or night.

The company is also carrying out multi-million-pound 30-year mains replacement programme, across Wales and the south west of England, which began in 2002. Old metal pipes within 30 metres of buildings are being replaced with new long-lasting plastic pipes with a lifespan of more than 80 years.