Natural Gas Emergencies

What is Natural Gas?

Natural gas isn't dangerous, but it's misuse is. Respect it, know how to use it, and know what to do in an emergency. Natural gas is a methane flammable gas that was formed in the earth millions of years ago. Natural gas is odorless, so a chemical name "mercaptan" was added to make the gas identifiable. It smells like rotten eggs. Used properly, it is a very useful gas, because it burns clean, it's plentiful, reliable and efficient.

Potential Hazards of Natural Gas

  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Gas burners, that are not adjusted properly, can produce this deadly gas which is odorless and tasteless, but is a killer.
  • Explosion: Because it's so flammable, if the gas would leak into a room or a confined space, any flame or spark could set the gas off, causing an explosion.
  • Fire: The fire from a natural gas flame is very hot and could ignite any combustible materials that happen to be near the flame.
  • Suffocation: Natural gas has no oxygen in it and will not sustain life. If a room or confined space is filled with the gas, anyone in the room will die.

General Safety Rules

  • Follow directions from the manufacturer for the use and care of gas appliances.
  • Keep combustibles such as papers, fluids, paints, and rags away from furnaces, water heaters, gas ranges, and dryers.
  • Keep gas ranges clean. Make sure burner bowls are free of used matches, grease, and paper.
  • Have a fire extinguisher near gas appliances at all times.
  • Teach children never to light or play with the controls of any gas appliance.
  • Keep pilot lights of your gas range lit. If you put out the light to save energy, the gas builds up and an explosion could occur.
  • Never, never use your gas range to heat your home or apartment. This practice creates a serious fire hazard and puts you and your family at risk from dangerous carbon monoxide fumes.

Gas Hazard Tips

Your sense of smell should tell you if a gas hazard exists. If the gas smell is strong, follow the following guidelines:

  • Do not light matches.
  • Do not turn lights on or off.
  • Do not use the telephone.
  • If possible, notify everyone in the building to leave immediately.
  • Call the gas company from a nearby building.
  • Do not reenter the building until you have been told it is safe to do so.