Gas is a wonderful thing. It is a highly combustible energy source that’s clean and economical to use. But its high combustibility also makes it highly dangerous, and if not used correctly gas can cause severe injuries and even death. This article looks at the dangers of gas leaks and provides tips on how to use gas safely in the home.
Fires and explosions
Leaking gas can lead to explosions and fires, and because natural gas has no odour gas suppliers add an odorant so that we can smell if it is leaking.
If a gas leak is detected, it is important not to create a spark of any kind that might trigger an explosion. Do not turn on any electrical switches and do not use a pager or mobile phone. Go immediately outside, turn the gas off at the mains or bottle and call the gas company.
Carbon monoxide poisoning
Another danger posed by leaking gas is carbon monoxide poisoning. This occurs when gas does not combust entirely due to a faulty appliance or lack of ventilation.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath and eventually loss of consciousness.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is a greater threat during the winter months when people heat their homes with gas and don’t ventilate adequately due to the cold. The best way to guard against this risk is to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home, which sounds an alarm if carbon monoxide levels rise.
Gas is perfectly safe for use in the home, provided we take basic precautions.
- Turning off gas heaters when we go to bed or leave the house.
- Installing gas and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Allowing gas to clear before attempting to relight pilot lights.
- Checking with the gas company before digging any holes in our back yards.
- Having all gas appliances safety checked at least once a year.
- Calling a gas fitter to repair any gas lines that show signs of deterioration, such as corrosion or green discolouration on copper piping.
- Never attempting to fix gas leaks ourselves.
- Only operating gas appliances according to manufacturers’ instructions.
- Never covering air vents or temperature controls on gas appliances.
Gas is a cheaper and more environmentally friendly energy source than most and will continue to serve us well for as long as our natural gas reserves remain. But just like electricity, we need to treat it with the respect it deserves when inviting it into our homes.