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Only a fifth of households in the North of England know what number to call in a gas emergency, new research has found.

The research, carried out by Northern Gas Networks and other UK gas distributors, coincides with national Gas Safety Week (w/c September 14).

The findings reveal that many households do not know how to call the National Gas Emergency Service – on 0800 111 999 – if they smell gas or suspect Carbon Monoxide.

Across Yorkshire, the North East and northern Cumbria, 87 percent of households respondents said that they were confident that they knew what to do if they smelt gas.

But 55 percent of households said they would call for help from inside their homes on a mobile phone, which is potentially dangerous. Customers are advised to avoid using any electrical equipment indoors, including mobile phones, if they smell gas.

And while 47 percent knew to call the National Gas Emergency Service, only 21 percent knew the right number to dial – just over a fifth.

Northern Gas Networks is using Gas Safety Week 2020 as an opportunity to promote the National Gas Emergency Service number, and provide tips and advice to keep families safe.

Tom Bell, Head of Social Strategy at Northern Gas Networks, said: “It is concerning that so few of the survey respondents knew to dial 0800 111 999 if they smelt gas or suspected Carbon Monoxide in the home. This number can literally save lives.

“We’d like to see the number become as memorable as 999 or NHS 111. Our gas network is safe and reliable and gas leaks are rare, but it’s still a good idea to keep the 0800 111 999 number handy. You never know when you might need it.”

When calling the National Gas Emergency Service, customers are put through to an experienced operator, who asks a few questions and dispatches an engineer who’ll arrive within one or two hours.

The operator also gives advice about what to do while waiting for the engineer, such as opening doors and windows. Once the engineer has arrived, they won’t leave until the situation has been made safe.

As well as calling the number immediately, customers who smell gas are advised to:

  • Open doors and windows to let fresh air in
  • Put out any naked flames, and don’t light matches or cigarettes
  • Turn off all gas appliances and don’t use them until they have been checked by a gas engineer
  • Turn the gas off at the meter
  • Turn off all electrical appliances, and avoid turning any switches on or off, and
  • Keep others away from the area.

The annual Gas Safety Week is organised by the Gas Safety Register; a national organisation which provides gas safety advice to consumers, and also publishes a register of qualified gas engineers.

The survey asked 8023 customers in England, Wales and Scotland whether they know what to do if they smell gas, with responses broken down by region.