Natural Gas Safety: What You Need to Know

Natural Gas Safety: What You Need to Know

Natural Gas Safety: What You Need to Know

Natural gas is used in millions of households for space heating, water heating and cooking. While generally safe and reliable, natural gas can be hazardous if used improperly. Follow these simple precautions to ensure the safety of your home and family.

Carbon monoxide poisoning

One of the dangers of poorly maintained or improperly used gas appliances is carbon monoxide poisoning. If you suspect the presence of carbon monoxide, exit your home immediately and call for assistance. Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause sickness, even death. Take these steps to reduce your risk:

  • Install a carbon monoxide (CO) detector. These devices measure the amount of CO in the air and alert you before it reaches dangerous levels.
  • Have natural gas appliances inspected by a qualified professional once a year.
  • Inspect the vents and flues for your gas water heater, furnace and fireplace to ensure the exhaust is properly ventilated. If you suspect a problem, contact a qualified repair technician.
  • Never use an oven for space heating. This can release carbon monoxide into your home.

Gas line leaks

Though rare, natural gas leaks can be dangerous. The most telling sign of a leak is a rotten egg smell. This smell is added to natural gas to make it easier to detect. If you suspect a leak:

  • Don't attempt to find the leak yourself
  • Don't shut off any electrical equipment
  • Leave the house immediately and contact your natural gas utility

Gas leaks outside your home also can be dangerous. Contact your utility if you smell natural gas outside your home. Call 811 to have underground utility lines marked before any outdoor projects that require digging.

Gas appliances and equipment

Natural gas equipment and appliances can cause fires or explosions if they are not cleaned and maintained properly. Take the following measures:

  • Keep the area around appliances and equipment free of flammable materials.
  • Have your furnace and water heater inspected and maintained regularly by a qualified professional.
  • Make sure your heating equipment and flues are in good working order.
  • Keep the air intakes and drainpipes on your water heater unobstructed. 
  • Clean your range regularly and adjust burners for maximum efficiency. If pilot lights go out, don't relight them if you smell a strong gas odor.

If you purchase new gas appliances or equipment, make sure they are installed correctly by a qualified professional.

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