86% in Derbyshire don't know what to do when they smell gas

Published on: Thursday, 10th September 2020

More than four in five (86%) of people in Derbyshire claim to know what to do when they smell gas.  However, only 13% know to call 0800 111 999 for the National Gas Emergency Service, the number you should call immediately.

There were 356,879 reported gas escapes in the past year – that’s almost 1,000 a day - and sadly these could lead to explosions with potentially devastating and fatal consequences.

Seemingly reassuringly, ahead of Gas Safety Week (14th – 20th September), research reveals that 84% of Brits think they know what to do if they smell gas.  However, when quizzed further, it’s clear many of these do not know the correct steps to take.

In the biggest survey of its kind, 8,000 people across England, Scotland and Wales were asked what they would do if they smelt gas inside their home.  Worryingly, more than half (52%) said they would immediately call for help via their mobile, over a third (34%) said they would get a carbon monoxide alarm as soon as possible if they didn’t already have one and 20% said they would go down into their basement or cellar to turn off the gas meter if it was situated there, while not insignificant numbers said they would close all windows and doors.

Worrying because these are things you shouldn’t do.  If you smell gas, using a mobile indoors or turning off a gas meter in a basement or cellar could ignite the gas causing an explosion; windows and doors need to be fully opened, while gas and carbon monoxide are two very different things, often confused.

At the same time, significant numbers of people aren’t aware of the steps you should take if you smell gas indoors.  63% didn’t realise you should turn off your gas meter (unless it’s in the basement or cellar), while over half didn’t realise you must extinguish all naked flames and cigarettes (53%) or that you mustn’t touch electrical switches (52%). 

Furthermore, fewer than one in five people (18%) admitted to knowing the correct number to immediately call – from outside your home if on a mobile – 0800 111 999, the National Gas Emergency Service. 26% mistakenly thought 999 is the number to ring. 

It’s an alarming picture. So what should you do?

If you smell gas, you must quickly take the right steps.  Darren Elsom / Dr Kate Jones, Network Director at Cadent who manage the gas emergency engineers for the 0800 111 999 National Gas Emergency Service, is here to discuss the alarming statistics and explain what you should do.

The research for the UK’s four Gas Distribution Companies (Cadent, SGN, Northern Gas Networks and Wales & West Utilities) was carried out online by Opinion Matters 12th – 28th August 2020 amongst a panel resulting in 8,023 fully responding.  All research conducted adheres to the MRS Codes of Conduct (2010) in the UK and ICC/ESOMAR World Research Guidelines.  Opinion Matters is registered with the Information Commissioner's Office and is fully compliant with the Data Protection Act (1998).

There is more on Gas Safety week at www.hse.gov.uk.

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