Natural Gas Leaks : Here’s What You Need to Know

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Natural Gas – The Basics

Did you know that natural gas provides a quarter of all the energy used in the United States?  It’s amazing to think about the fact that natural gas travels through more than 2 million miles of underground pipe to get to your home or business.  Gas utilities serve more than 68 million residential customers and more than 5 million businesses.

We rely on natural gas for heating and cooking.  It’s an important part of our lives.  But if not maintained properly, natural gas explosions can cause serious injury and death.  Here’s an example of a residential natural gas explosion that happened in September of 2014.  Also, you might remember the explosion at JJ’s on the Plaza in 2013.

How To Detect a Gas Leak

Natural Gas is odorless; therefore, an additive that causes a “rotten egg” smell when the gas is in the air is mixed with the methane before the natural gas is delivered to the general public.  In the event of a leak, you should be able to smell this distinct odor.  Another way to detect a gas leak is if you notice dead or discolored vegetation near a natural gas source.

Natural-Gas-Source-Graphic

(Photo by Midwest Natural Gas, Inc.)

What To Do If You Discover a Gas Leak

Natural-Gas-Today-NewsThe Today Show recently did a report on natural gas leaks, and had a great list of what to do if you discover a natural gas leak:

  • If you notice something obviously wrong like sparks or flames, evacuate your house immediately and call 911. “You want to make sure that you’re at a safe distance,” Altman advised. “You want to make sure you’re across the street somewhere that you feel safe, and once you get there, you want to make sure you dial 911 from there.”
  • If you don’t notice anything obviously wrong, make sure all the burners on your gas stove are turned off.
  • If the stove is off and you suspect a leak, don’t turn on the lights. “That could lead to a spark, which causes an explosion,” Altman said. “You want to make sure you have a flashlight handy.”
  • Open all the doors and windows. “You want to make sure you ventilate the house,” Altman said.
  • If you suddenly notice your grass or shrubs have changed color, looking more brown or rusty, that could be a sign of a leak: the gas pouring out of the pipes. If you see any of these things, make sure to call 911 immediately and then call the gas company.
  • If you have turned the gas off in your home, do not try to turn it back on yourself; call the gas company to do that for you.

If you are one of our renters, please get the situation under control using the tips above and then let us know what happened.  Everyone should know how to detect and respond to a natural gas leak!