Many people rely on natural gas or propane to heat their homes and their water. While this option has some advantages, the combustible gases used for this purpose also carry some risk. Among the top concerns for gas users is a leak inside the home. This is not a common occurrence, but it can be a serious one. Being able to detect or prevent a gas leak and knowing what to do if you have one is important for you and your family's safety.
Gas leak prevention should be high on anyone's priority list if they have gas utilities in the home. Simply inspecting all gas equipment every once in awhile to make sure it works properly is all it takes. You probably don't have the expertise to do this yourself, but it will be well worth the cost to have a professional perform an annual inspection to make sure everything is in good condition, preferably prior to the cold season when you'll be using your gas the most.
Gas leaks pose a major threat to the health and safety of you and your family. Natural gas and propane can poison your family if excessive amounts are inhaled. It can disrupt the oxygen flow to the brain and can be life-threatening. However, inhalation hazards are just the tip of the iceberg. The gas piped into your home is combustible, or it wouldn't be effective for heating. If gas begins filling your home, your house can quickly turn from a happy home to a ticking time bomb. A small ignition spark from a cigarette lighter, electrical outlet or even an electronic device such as your phone can be enough to ignite the gas. This can lead to fast-spreading fires or possibly an explosion.
What to Do
If you realize you have a gas leak, you must take action immediately to prevent serious consequences. Open up the windows in the home and get yourself and anyone else in the house outdoors as quickly as possible. Do not stop to shut off appliances, although you should turn off any burners that might be lit to reduce chances of further ignition. Do not use any electric or battery-powered devices, including your cell phone, until you and your family are safely outside. Call the gas company immediately and report the leak. The gas company's technicians will be better equipped to deal with the situation than you are.
Gas leak detection is very important, because without it you might just sit in a house that's filling with dangerous gas without doing anything about it. Gas leak detectors are available on the market. Hang these detectors on your walls the same way you would a smoke detector. When the device senses gas in the air, an alarm will sound, notifying you to evacuate the premises. In addition, gas companies add a compound with sulfur in it to gas supplies so the natural gas emits an unmistakable rotten egg smell. This ensures that anyone with a properly working sense of smell will immediately be warned of a leak.
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