THE gas distributor for the North of England has kicked off a major safety campaign designed to prevent the cost of living crisis adding to avoidable injuries and deaths from exposure to carbon monoxide (CO).

On average around 40 people in England and Wales die every year from CO poisoning and a further 200 are admitted to hospital due to the highly dangerous effects of this invisible, tasteless and odourless gas.

Many of these cases are the result of poorly maintained or unserviced gas appliances – and there are fears that customers skipping their annual service or taking short cuts in the face of rising energy costs could lead to a potentially deadly spike in CO-related incidents.

In a series of hard-hitting films highlighting some of the dangerous practices that its staff and partners have encountered in recent months, Northern Gas Networks (NGN) hopes to raise awareness of the dangers of taking CO safety too lightly and highlight the support on offer for those in difficulty.

NGN’s customer experience director Eileen Brown said: “As the gas distributor for some 2.7m homes and businesses across the region, we have a key responsibility in raising awareness and educating on gas safety.

“We know from what we’re hearing on the ground that people are already feeling the effects of rising prices and that, as a result, some are doing things at home that put could them and their families at serious risk. These include taking the batteries out of carbon monoxide alarms, blocking vents in a bid to conserve heat or even lighting barbecues or chimineas indoors to heat their homes.

“Taking chances like this is unbelievably dangerous. That’s why we’re hoping these films – featuring real-life CO safety stories – will flag the serious risks of cutting corners.”

As well as insights from its own engineers, the films include contributions from organisations who work closely with NGN to help the most vulnerable, including Citizens Advice and Community Action Northumberland. The stories told on camera are anonymised but feature genuine examples of customers potentially putting their lives in danger by not understanding the dangers of CO or not having a working carbon monoxide alarm.

The campaign strongly urges customers across the region to visit the NGN website where they can become CO Heroes by learning how to spot the signs of symptoms of CO poisoning and test their safety know-how with a specially designed CO questionnaire. Everyone who completes the short two-part quiz will have the chance to win a £100 shopping voucher each week.

The website also features more general tips for keeping and safe and warm over winter and details of the free help and advice available to vulnerable customers. For more information, visit

Anyone who smells gas or suspects a CO leak should call the 24-hour National Gas Emergency line immediately on 0800 111 999.