Natural gas is a popular fuel for heating a home, water tank, and for cooking. However, when you have natural gas appliances there’s always a small risk of a gas leak. A gas leak can cause a fire or an explosion if it comes in contact with a spark. Breathing air with high concentrations of natural gas can also cause asphyxia, and possibly death.
That is why it’s important to take potential gas leaks seriously. Learn the warning signs, and how to recognize gas leaks.
Natural gas is odorless. Utility companies add a substance so that it smells like rotten eggs. However, don’t depend on smell alone to alert you to gas leaks.
You may have a gas leak if you notice:
- A roaring or hissing sound inside the house or garage (or outside it)
- Long-lasting bubbling in standing water near the pipeline area
- Dead grass or other dried-up vegetation in the pipeline area
- Earth moving or dirt blowing in the air near the pipeline area
- A damaged connection to a gas pipeline
- An exposed gas pipeline after a natural disaster
If you do smell gas, and especially if coupled with a hissing sound, get out immediately. Make sure everyone is out of the home or building. Leave the door open, so the gas can dissipate.
- Don’t do anything that could cause a spark. This includes flipping a light switch, unplugging electrical devices or using a phone (landline or cell).
- Put out anything currently burning. This includes snuffing out cigarettes and blowing out candles. Don’t light a match, stove, or cigarette lighter if you suspect a gas leak.
- Open windows and doors to let fresh air inside.
- Turn off the gas supply at the meter and keep it off until deemed safe to turn back on.
- Standing a safe distance away from your home, call 911 and your gas provider.
If you are outside and smell gas, or see signs of a gas leak, maintain a safe distance away before calling the utility company. Remember, a cell phone call in an area with a gas leak can create a spark that could cause an explosion.
To help cut down on experiencing any disasters if you have natural gas you should:
- Buy and install carbon monoxide detectors near the furnace, hot water heater, and stove.
- Buy and use the appropriate type of fire extinguisher for your kitchen and furnace rooms. Check the fire extinguisher every January 1st to make sure they are still pressurized.
- Save your utility’s emergency number in your cell phone and post it on the fridge (for a grab-and-go reference).
- Move or get rid of any paper (e.g., newspaper, packaging materials), household wood products, or anything else that can easily catch fire that are near your gas, propane, or oil appliances.
- Relocate paints and solvents to outside your home, if possible.
- Remove any natural gas space heaters.