Matthew Burton, head teacher in TV's Educating Yorkshire, standing outside a row of houses

No excuses for not taking gas safety seriously

Brits are being urged to stop making excuses for ignoring gas safety. This year Gas Safety Week has teamed up with the nation’s favourite headteacher, Matthew Burton from TV’s Educating Yorkshire, to spread gas safety messages across the nation to help people stay gas safe.

New Gas Safe Register research* has found that one-third of UK adults (33 per cent) make excuses at least twice a week to get out of or put off doing things they know they should do: avoiding household chores is the top reason (cited by 51 per cent). More than half have used an excuse to skip work and two-thirds (64 per cent) to side-step socialising.

More worryingly, one in three people (31 per cent) have used excuses not to get their gas appliances safety checked, despite nearly 80 per cent of them saying they would never make excuses if their loved ones’ safety was at risk.

Gas Safe’s latest inspection figures** show just how real these risks are and why excuses aren’t worth making. Nearly 7 million homes – one in four – contain potentially dangerous gas appliances, including boilers, cookers and gas fires.

Tall tales
Matthew Burton says he thought he’d heard every excuse in the book from his pupils until he spoke to Gas Safe registered engineers about the tall tales they commonly hear from their customers. Insights from more than 500 gas engineers*** found that householders most commonly use “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” as an excuse for skipping their annual gas safety checks, failing to realise that this could be masking lethal faults.

Further far-fetched excuses that gas engineers have heard include:

  • The parrot doesn’t like gas engineers
  • I used a wine bottle cork to stop gas coming out of the hole in the wall
  • I just open the window if it starts smelling of gas, and
  • I didn’t think gas was dangerous.

Matthew says: “Having been a teacher for many years, I thought I’d heard a wide range of excuses, from the old-school ‘the dog ate my homework’ to today’s ‘my laptop has blown up’. And excuses don’t stop when we leave school. We all lead busy lives and find little reasons here and there that sometimes help us justify putting off or avoiding things.

“But there are no excuses for not taking gas safety seriously in our homes. From personal experience, I know that unsafe and unchecked appliances – cookers, boilers, gas fires – can be deadly. Taking action is easy though: it’s so important that we educate ourselves on the warning signs of gas safety, and that we choose prevention over cure.”

Matthew experienced the effects of dangerous gas appliances himself when his family moved into a new home 10 years ago that housed a faulty boiler, making his family feeling nauseous.

Bob Kerr, Gas Services Director at Gas Safe Register, adds: “We’re urging the nation to take a ‘no excuses’ attitude. Be better gas safe than sorry – don’t let excuses get in the way of the health and safety of your loved ones.”

*Research conducted by 3Gem on behalf of the Gas Safe Register. 3Gem surveyed 2,000 respondents in July 2021.
** Findings based on 10,734 UK homes inspected between July 2020 and July 2021.
*** Poll conducted among 512 Gas Safe Registered engineers in August 2021.

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