Residential safety is a huge topic amongst first responders such as fire fighters and utility workers. There are numerous hazards that homeowners have to contend with, many of which are life threating. However, one of the most common and dangerous residential concerns is that of natural gas leaks.
Natural gas exists within 62 million homes in the United States, many of which are decades old. This means that homes that have natural gas today may not be up-to-date with the technology that we are familiar with. Obviously, this can lead to serious problems when pipelines break or wither. If you are a homeowner who uses natural gas, it is critical that you understand what to do if you smell gas in your home.
Natural gas is an odorless substance in its natural form. Natural gas producers add a harmless chemical known as mercaptan to give it a distinctive odor. This protects homeowners from the dangers associated with natural gas. However, if you smell ‘gas’ you need to know what to do to keep your property and family safe. You also need to know what not to do when you face this situation.
What Not to Do
There are several things you ought not to do when you face a natural gas smell. These include:
If you smell gas, never ever smoke a cigarette inside. Lighting a cigarette can spark flames and cause the gas in the air to ignite. If you have to smoke, go far away from your home.
Avoid lighting a match or candle
Similar to smoking a cigarette indoors, lighting a match or a candle can cause serious issues. Instead of doing that, avoid it altogether.
Avoid turning lights on and off
This is something many residential homeowners overlook. Turning your electrical lights on and off can also ignite natural gas. Natural gas is highly flammable, and electricity can spark it in a split second.
Do not use your phone
Although you might not think it, using your phone can be equally as dangerous as lighting a cigarette. Once again, it is best to make any calls far away from the inside of your home.
Do not pull out outlets and plugs
Make sure you and any children in the house know not to pull out outlets or plugs if there is a smell of natural gas in the home. This is for your protection as it can ignite sparks in the gas hanging in the air.
Never turn the gas back on after it’s been turned off
If you or the gas company has turned off your gas, never turn it back on until they give you the go ahead to do so.
In the case of any emergency, what you don’t do is just as important as what you do. Be cognizant of what not to do in this situation to avoid bringing more harm to your home.
What to Do
Check your pilot light
Before you do anything else, check to see if your pilot light is on. You may also want to look at your burner valve to see if has been left partially on. If you can’t find the source simply leave your windows and doors open until the scent has dissipated.
Put out any flames
If your stove is on or if you have candles burning immediately put them out. You never want an open flame on top of the natural gas lingering in the air. .
Leave your home
If the odor is overwhelming, it is best to simply leave the entire area altogether. You don’t want to be anywhere near your home if the issue could escalate into a fire.
Turn off the gas
If you know where you gas valve is and the odor is minimal, then be proactive and find the leak yourself. You can then turn off the gas and hopefully reduce any chance of engaging in a more serious problem.
Keep everyone away
Family and friends and even neighbors should be alerted and told to stay far away from the area if and when a leak has been detected. You also should be aware of keeping pets away from the area as best you can. Safety is the priority.
Call your gas company
After you have taken all precautions listed above, then the final step is to call your gas company. They will come out and inspect the area to see where the leak is coming from.
Once your leak has been identified, you will need professional help to take care of it. You cannot singlehanded take care of it. In fact, it is imperative to hire someone who is qualified to fix the leak in accordance with local laws and regulations. Doing so will ensure that your home is safe and secure once again.