Friday, 4 September 2015

Gas appliances: how to stay safe in your student let

What will your top priorities be on moving into your student house? Tracking down your nearest pub? Personalizing your room? Ensuring your landlord is Gas Safe? Chances are the last of these hadn't occurred to you, however, with badly maintained gas appliances leading to fatal gas leaks, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning, knowing your rights as a tenant could well save your life.

Your landlord has a legal responsibility for your safety. This means that every gas appliance they provide you with, for example, boilers, cookers, hobs and fires must be correctly maintained and a gas safety check carried out every year by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Help ensure these checks take place by cooperating with your landlord and ensuring there is always someone to let the engineer in, remembering to check their Gas Safe ID card each time. Take care to look on both sides of the card for details of the engineer's license number, the start and expiry date, the security hologram, the work the engineer is qualified to do and their up to date qualifications. Alternatively, you can easily check that they are registered and view their photo on the Gas Safe website or call up Gas Safe directly.

On moving into your student house, make sure that your landlord provides you with a copy of their Gas Safe Record (also referred to as the landlord's Gas Safe Certificate), as they are required to do under the law, and don't forget to fit an audible carbon monoxide alarm (ones marked with British Standard EN50291 are recommended). Keep an eye out for signs that your gas appliances aren't working correctly, such as lazy yellow or orange flames instead of crisp blue ones or any black marks/stains around the appliance.

Carbon monoxide is invisible, odourless and tasteless but can kill quickly and without warning in just a couple of hours. Always stay alert for the key symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning (headaches, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness, collapse and loss of consciousness) and remember that these are sometimes confused with two of the most common complaints amongst students - hangovers and the flu. If you experience any of these consider carefully whether you're really feeling the effects of that last drink, or suffering from something more serious, in which case you should seek medical help immediately. In an emergency, call the Gas Emergency Helpline immediately on 0800 111 999. Alternatively, in the event of your landlord refusing to properly service and safety check the appliances they have provided, ring the Health and Safety Executive on 0845 345 0055.

The start of the University term is always a busy and exciting time with plenty to remember - from the location of your lecture halls to the names of all your coursemates! However, when it comes to moving into your student let, it really does make sense to be Gas Safe rather than sorry.

For more advice on how to keep Gas Safe as a student, click here or find out how you can support Gas Safety Week 2015 (14th - 20th September) here.  

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