Millions of commercial and residential buildings use natural gas. While manufacturers are constantly innovating their safety systems, the fact remains that gas is dangerous, and gas leaks can still occur. That’s why it’s important to know how to spot a gas leak and what to do if you suspect one.
How to Detect a Gas Leak
A gas leak is easy to notice if you know what to look for. Keep an eye out for:
- Sulfur smell (rotten eggs)
- Whistling or hissing noises near gas lines
- Visibly damaged gas pipes
- Bubbles in water
- A cloud of white or dust near a gas line
- Dead houseplants
You may also see physical gas leak symptoms in yourself and loved ones:
- Breathing difficulties
- Nausea, fatigue and other flu-like symptoms
- Irritation of skin, eyes and throat
- Reduced appetite and mood changes
- Nosebleeds and ringing ears
Your pets may show symptoms before you do because they’re smaller. If you notice symptoms similar to those above, vomiting, lethargy or disorientation in your pet, there could be a gas leak.
What should you do if there’s a leak?
Gas is extremely dangerous and explosive in large quantities, and it releases deadly carbon monoxide if it burns incompletely. If you find a gas leak, follow these steps:
- Immediately evacuate the building, leaving doors open on your way out to increase airflow.
- Stop all use of electronic devices, including phones, as actions as simple as turning light switches or devices on or off could ignite the gas.
- Once outside, call 911, your local fire department or the emergency number for your utility company.
- If anyone has experienced physical symptoms, seek medical treatment.
- Once the gas has been turned off and the building is cleared for entry, call a gas plumber.
In the event of a gas leak, never search for the source, attempt to repair the leak, use or turn off electronics, keep doors and windows closed or neglect to report the situation.
Tips for Preventing Gas Leaks
To prevent gas leaks in the future, stay aware of gas leak symptoms and schedule regular inspections. Ensure proper ventilation throughout the building and install carbon monoxide detectors if you don’t already have them. Make sure you always have a fire extinguisher on-site, and never keep cleaning supplies and other chemicals near gas lines.