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Make sure your gas appliances at home are safe and take steps to protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning and fire.

Gas safety

  • If you smell gas, call the gas emergency number 0800 111 999 straight away.
  • If you have a gas boiler, the pilot light should be alight all the time. If it has gone out and you can’t relight it yourself call out a Gas Safe registered engineer .
  • Have your gas appliances safety checked every year by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Only Gas Safe registered engineers are legally allowed to work on gas appliances. Find one on the Gas Safe website or by calling 0800 408 5500.

Get carbon monoxide detectors

Carbon monoxide is known as a ‘silent killer’ because you can’t see, taste or smell it. Heaters that burn gas, coal or wood can give off poisonous carbon monoxide fumes if they’re not working properly.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to a cold or flu and can include:

  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • breathlessness
  • collapse
  • loss of consciousness

A carbon monoxide detector will flash and sound an audible alarm if it detects carbon monoxide. You should install one in every room where there is a gas appliance, and the batteries usually last around five years.

When you buy a carbon monoxide detector, make sure it bears the Kitemark and European Standard number BS EN 50291.

If you think carbon monoxide is present, call the gas emergency number 0800 111 999. If you have solid fuel heating, call a solid fuel engineer. Contact the Solid Fuel Association for a list of members.

As of October 1st 2015, private landlords are required to fit carbon monoxide alarms in rooms where there is a solid fuel appliance. To find out more if this affects you as a landlord or as a tenant, read the government's Q&A booklet on the regulations.

Fire safety

Follow these tips to cut down the risk of a fire in your home.

  • Make sure you have a smoke alarm on each floor of your home and check it has the British Standard number BS5446 and the Kitemark.
  • Test your smoke alarm regularly – it can’t save lives if it’s not working properly.
  • If you have hearing problems, you can get a smoke alarm which sets off vibrating pads which can be put under your pillow at night, to get your attention.
  • If you smoke, make sure you stub your cigarettes out completely.
  • Never smoke in bed.
  • If you have an open fire, make sure you use a fireguard.
  • Don’t dry clothes over or near a fire.
  • When you’re cooking, never leave the pan unattended.
  • Plan an escape route. This can save valuable time in a fire.
  • Ask your local fire service to check your home for fire safety. It’s free and you may be eligible to get free smoke alarms fitted.

Electrical safety

There are more than 20,000 electrical fires in UK homes each year. Follow these top tips to make sure your home electrics are safe.

  • Wiring in the home can suffer wear and tear which could make it dangerous. You should get a registered electrician to check your wiring at least every ten years.
  • Make sure that any appliances don’t have damaged wires or plugs.
  • Take particular care when using garden equipment that needs to be plugged in. Make sure any garden equipment is plugged into a socket with RCD protection. RCD (residual current devices) protect you from electric shock.
  • Don’t overload sockets or extension leads as this can cause a fire.

Electric blankets

Damaged electric blankets cause more than 5,000 house fires a year. Follow our tips and avoid this happening in your home.

  • Have your blanket checked by an expert at least every three years, or as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Replace your electric blanket at least every 10 years. Always buy a new blanket – second hand blankets may not be safe.
  • Never use a hot water bottle with an electric blanket, even if the blanket is switched off.
  • Store your electric blanket safely. It’s better not to fold it as this could damage the wiring. Roll it, or leave it unplugged and flat on a bed. Don’t store it under heavy items.
  • Unplug your blanket before you get into bed (unless you have a blanket with a thermostat control for all-night use).
  • Watch out for signs of wear and tear such as fraying fabric, scorch marks, worn flex, exposed elements, damaged or missing tie tapes, loose connections, creasing or folding or other danger signs such as soiling or damp patches. If you see any of these, get your blanket checked or buy a new one.

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Further information


Our Information guides are short and easy to digest, giving a comprehensive overview of the relevant topic. Factsheets are longer with more detail, and are aimed at professionals.

You can download other guides in our series from publications

For more information: Call Age UK Advice: 0800 169 2081

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