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Natural Gas Safety

More than 50 percent of American households use natural gas as a main source of energy. Although natural gas is a clean and efficient method of heating a house, there are some risks that need to be observed in order to stay safe.

Carbon Monoxide

A small portion of deaths and illness due to carbon monoxide are connected to natural gas usage each year. Usually, the cause is a faulty appliance, such as a gas water heater, that is not venting properly. Natural gas appliances should be carefully maintained in order to avoid such mishaps. There are also a few things you can do to prevent carbon monoxide from becoming a larger issue.

  • Carbon monoxide detectors measure the amount of carbon monoxide in the home. You should have one installed near all gas appliances.
  • Have natural gas appliances professionally inspected yearly.
  • Inspect vents, flues, and chimneys connected to natural gas appliances to ensure proper ventilation.
  • Natural gas and kerosene space heaters should be well ventilated. Do not sleep in a room where ventilation is not possible if you are going to use a gas space heater.
  • Ovens should not be used to heat a home. Doing so may damage your oven, and may cause it to release carbon monoxide.

Gas Line Leaks

In its natural state, natural gas is odorless. A chemical smell that is reminiscent of rotten eggs is added to natural gas to make it noticeable in the case of a leak.

Natural gas becomes volatile when it builds up in enclosed areas as a result of a leak, creating the potential for an explosion. The gas smell may make you sick as well. Natural gas leaks inside a home are easily prevented by making sure gas lines are properly fitted and functioning. This should be done during annual checkups by professionals.

Natural gas leaks outside are also dangerous. Digging is the biggest risk factor for natural gas leaks outside the home as natural gas lines are typically buried underground. Before starting any work that requires digging, it is important to contact your local natural gas supplier and have underground lines marked.

If you do detect the strong odor of natural gas, following the tips below can help.

  • Do not attempt to locate the leak.
  • Don't turn on or off any electrical appliance as this creates a spark that could ignite the gas.
  • Do not smoke or use any open flame
  • Leave the house immediately and call for assistance from a safe distance.
  • If a natural gas line is damaged during digging, do not attempt to repair it. Clear the area and call for assistance from your utility company.

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