Wales & West Utilities is encouraging primary school pupils to be carbon monoxide (CO) safety heroes and help spread vital messages to raise awareness of the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The call from the gas emergency and pipeline service comes as the annual ‘Get Creative, Be Safe’ competition launches where youngsters are encouraged to be creative to inform others about the deathly dangers of carbon monoxide.

To take part in the competition, primary pupils are urged to put their creativity to the test using any form of media, such as eye-catching cartoons, videos, models, short stories or poems, to warn of the dangers of CO poisoning – and how to avoid them.

Carbon monoxide is known as the ‘silent killer’ because you can’t see it, smell it or taste it. It can pose a serious threat to human health and even fatality, with around 30-40 deaths caused by CO poisoning each year in the UK and 4,000 people treated in hospital as a result of CO poisoning. Even low levels of exposure over an extended period can cause serious health issues, including brain injuries.

This is the 8th year that Wales & West Utilities, alongside the UK’s other gas networks, has run the ‘Get Creative, Be Safe’ competition’.

Clive Book, Head of Operations at Wales & West Utilities, said:

We are delighted to launch the competition, once again, and look forward to seeing the high standard of entries from across our operating area.

Running the competition is a fantastic way to help youngsters understand how they can be gas safe in the home, whilst giving them the opportunity to win excellent prizes for themselves and their school or other organisation, like Scouts.

We want people to stay safe from the deathly dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and this competition is a great way of spreading the gas safety messages. Good luck to everyone who enters.

Youngsters who enter the competition will be in with a chance to win a cash prize for both themselves and their school or organisation. Wales & West Utilities will judge entries and pick four area winners – two from Key Stage 1 and 2 in both Wales and south west England – who will personally receive £150 and £300 for their school / organisation (which can include uniformed organisations such as Cubs or Brownies). The regional winners will go forward to a national final, where they have a chance to win a further £300 for themselves and £600 for their school / organisation.

Entries must be submitted in the form of a JPEG photograph or coloured scan or as a link / attachment (if entry is in video or digital form), and emailed along with the entrant’s name, age, school / organisation and postcode to:   

Entries must be received by 12 May. More information can be found at:

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, tiredness, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, shortness of breath and, in extreme cases, loss of consciousness. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can be similar to those of food poisoning and the flu. However, unlike the flu, carbon monoxide poisoning does not cause a high temperature (fever).

To stay safe, people are urged to:

  • Get an audible carbon monoxide alarm in every room with a gas appliance and test it regularly.
  • Make sure that gas appliances are serviced annually: that includes gas boilers, gas cookers and gas water heaters.
  • Know the signs of carbon monoxide: Look out for your gas appliances burning a floppy yellow or orange, not crisp and blue; pilot lights on boilers frequently blowing out; extra condensation inside your window; soot or yellow stains around appliances.
  • Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: similar to the flu or food poisoning without a high temperature.
  • If your alarm sounds, or you suspect carbon monoxide, take action: move outside into fresh air, leaving doors and windows open as you go. Then call the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999. In a medical emergency, don't delay, call 999 immediately.

Wales & West Utilities, the gas emergency and pipeline service, brings energy to 7.5m people across the south west of England and Wales. If you smell gas, or suspect the presence of carbon monoxide, call us on 0800 111 999 straight away, and our engineers will be there to help any time of day or night. Before visiting, we'll ask you to let us know if you or anyone in your household, is experiencing Coronavirus symptoms or self-isolating. We'll still come and help you: but our teams will take some additional precautions to keep us all safe.