What To Do in a Potential Gas Emergency

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What To Do in a Potential Gas Emergency

At some time during your life you’ve likely heard the phrase, “Don’t try to be a hero.” It might be directed toward a firefighter, police officer or member of the military. I want to consider it in a different light and direct it toward any Waterford, MI homeowner who uses natural gas or propane. If you suspect a gas leak don’t try to be a hero and find the source. Leave the house and call 911.

The time is now

This is a great time of year to talk about home gas safety because the furnaces are now coming on and will be running full time in just a few weeks. So, let’s spend a little time talking about how to recognize a gas leak and then what you SHOULD do.

Numbers to ponder

Twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, natural gas flows through pipelines crisscrossing the country. When it arrives at a final destination it will be used to provide heat, cooking, hot water, and more for 71 million homes and businesses. This is an energy superhighway no one notices because it runs underground. Statistics show pipelines are one of the safest forms of transportation but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared for a gas leak.

The first line of defense

Did you know that when it comes out of the ground natural gas is odorless? That’s why federal and state authorities require utilities to add the odor of rotten eggs to the gas. It must be readily detectable by a person with a normal sense of smell. This is why I like to say your sense of smell is the first and best line of defense in home gas safety.

What to do

If you smell natural gas or have another reason to suspect a gas leak, don’t try to be a hero—don’t go looking for the source. Leave the area quickly and don’t do anything to cause a spark in the process. This includes:

  • Turning on or off an electric switch
  • Using a cell phone, telephone, garage door opener, or doorbell
  • Lighting a match or any other type of lighter
  • Starting a vehicle or other machinery. 

Once you are clear of the area, THEN call 911. After the emergency responders and/or the utility company have determined the situation is safe, call Kotz Heating, Cooling & Plumbing to determine what caused the problem and make necessary repairs.

A warning for propane users

Everything we’ve talked about to this point also applies if you use propane instead of natural gas, but there is one warning I would like to add. Propane is heavier than air which means the gas will settle to the lowest level. If, for example, the leak is in the basement it could accumulate for quite some time before you notice the rotten egg smell. This is why Kotz strongly recommends having propane detectors in your Waterford, MI home as part of a home gas safety program.

Just a reminder

No form of home gas safety is perfect. Your ability to detect the rotten egg odor in gas or propane can be affected by constant exposure, other nearby odors masking the smell, or colds, allergies, and sinus problems. Always be alert for other warning signs of a gas leak.

Silent killer

Now is also the time to remind you about deadly carbon monoxide gas, the byproduct of any combustion process. Winter is the most dangerous time of the year for this silent killer. Please be sure to replace the batteries and test your CO detectors. If you don’t have carbon monoxide detectors, now is the time to install them. For more great information year round be sure to like and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.