GAS LINE 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 be aware of the possible hazards of natural gas.
Carbon monoxide poisoning. The number one safety issue with natural gas (and heating oil, 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 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 a fever. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should get out of the house and call 911, the fire department or emergency medical services immediately.
To decrease the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning: Install carbon monoxide detectors in key areas of your home. Have a trained gas line repair person inspect appliances that use natural gas once a year. Inspect the vents, flues and chimneys of all gas water heaters, furnaces, and fireplaces for correct ventilation of exhaust. Never warm the home with your oven. This can harm the oven and cause carbon monoxide to be released into the home. Never sleep in a space heated by a gas or kerosene room heater that does not have appropriate 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 space can make people very sick or trigger an explosion. Gas leaks in the home can be easily prevented by making sure flexible gas lines are hooked up correctly and inspected regularly by qualified professionals. Gas leaks outside the home are also hazardous. Nearly all gas lines coming into the house are buried underground. Prior to doing any work that calls for digging outside, you should call their local utilities so lines can be marked before digging begins. If you smell gas: Turn off the gas in the house. Do not turn on or off any electrical appliances. Do not smoke or use any open flames. Do not attempt to find 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 try to repair the line.