Smart tips for natural gas safety
More than half of the homes in the United States rely on natural gas for clean and efficient heating and cooking. Natural gas lines and appliances are relatively safe, but for the protection of your home and family you should always be aware of the possible hazards of natural gas. Carbon monoxide poisoning. The number one safety issue with natural gas, propane and other combustible fuels is the danger of carbon monoxide. If a faulty furnace or other gas-fueled appliance does not burn the fuel properly, or is not vented properly, carbon monoxide can begin to build up in the home. Carbon monoxide is dangerous because it is odorless, and robs the victim’s brain and organs of the oxygen necessary to function properly. The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to those of the flu without the fever. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should get out of the house and call 911, the fire department or emergency medical services immediately.
To reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning:
-install carbon monoxide detectors in key areas around your home.
-have a qualified repair person check appliances that use natural gas once a year.
-inspect the vents, flues and chimneys of all gas water heaters, furnaces and fireplaces for proper ventilation and exhaust.
Heat the house with your oven. This can damage the oven and cause carbon monoxide to be released into the home.
Sleep in a room heated by a gas or kerosene space heater that does not have proper venting. Gas line leaks. Natural gas has a “rotten egg” odor added to gas to warn of a leak. Line leaks are rare but can be extremely dangerous. A buildup of gas in an enclosed area can make people very sick or cause an explosion. Gas leaks in the home can be easily prevented by ensuring flexible gas lines are installed properly and inspected by licensed professionals. Gas leaks outside the home are also dangerous. Most gas lines coming into the home are buried underground. Before doing any job that requires digging outside, homeowners should call their local utilities so lines can be marked before digging begins.
What to do if you smell the “rotten egg” odor in your home:
-do not use your cell phone until safely away from your home.
-shut gas valves off at your home
-do not turn on or off any electrical appliances
-do not smoke or use any open flames
-do not attempt to locate the leak
-get a safe distance away from the house and then call 911 and the utility company
-if a natural gas line is damaged when digging outside, call the utility company immediately. Do not attempt to repair the line.