A SAFETY warning was issued today after evidence suggests that most of Cumbria’s residents don’t know what to do if they were to smell gas.

And worryingly high numbers of people revealed they might unwittingly do things that increase the risk of causing an explosion.

At the start of Gas Safety Week this week, bosses at gas emergency service Cadent - whose engineers checked out more than 80,000 reports of smells of gas in the North West last year – are keen to raise awareness.

A survey asked 8,000 people what they would do if they smelled gas:

- More than half (52 per cent) said they saw nothing wrong with making a call from their mobile phone indoors

- Over a third (34 per cent) said they’d go out to get a carbon monoxide alarm if they didn’t already have one

- One in five (20 per cent) said they wouldn’t think twice about going into their basement or cellar to turn off the gas meter, if it’s situated there

- Not insignificant numbers said they would close all windows (5 per cent) and doors (10 per cent)

These are all 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 and cause an explosion; windows and doors need to be fully opened, while gas and carbon monoxide are two different things, often confused. While it is important to have an audible CO alarm, such a device won’t alert you to leaks of natural gas.

Fewer than one in five people (18 per cent) admitted to knowing the correct number to call – which should always be done from outside your home if on a mobile. That number is 0800 111 999, the national gas emergency service. More than 25 per cent mistakenly thought that 999 is the number to ring.

Jenny Moten, Cadent’s Network Director for North West England, said: “The first thing you must do if you smell gas, day or night, is call the gas emergency service on 0800 111 999 immediately.

“Please, save that number where you can find it easily and tell your family and friends about it.

“My engineers are on standby 24/7, 365 days a year, to respond quickly to any reported smells of gas. The vast majority will be false alarms, but some will be real gas leaks. They must all be checked out to be absolutely sure. You must tell us about it, so we can make that assessment.

“Don’t wait until later or think someone else will do it. The risk just isn’t worth taking.”

What you should do if you smell gas

• Call the gas emergency number on 0800 111 999

• Extinguish any naked flames and do not smoke

• Do not operate any power or light switches, or any electrical appliances which could cause a spark

• Open doors and windows to ventilate the property

• Turn your gas off at the meter – If your meter is in a cellar/basement, do not enter. Evacuate the building

Cadent manages the gas emergency service for the southern half of Cumbria, including the Lake District, Barrow-in-Furness and Grange-over-Sands, employing hundreds of engineers ready to respond fast to reported gas escapes. www.cadentgas.com