Natural Gas Leaks: How Can You Stay Safe?
On June 14th a home in Roswell, Fulton County, exploded, leaving three occupants homeless, two of which were taken to hospital with third-degree burns. They’d only been living in the home for a week when the devastating explosion occurred, destroying the house.
The three men in the house had recently installed a washer and natural gas dryer they had bought from Craigslist. According to one of the men, the washer gave off a foul, moldy odor. It seems possible that this smell was actually masking the scent of leaking natural gas, too. In most cases, gas leaks can be smelled – Atlanta Gas & Light adds the chemical mercaptan to natural gas to that makes it smell like rotten eggs.
When two residents lit a candle to freshen the air, the gas exploded, leveling the house.
What Caused The Natural Gas Leak?
According to the Roswell fire department, the gas leak came from the clothes dryer. While a homeowner can install a natural gas dryer, the correct connectors must be used and pipe unions need to be checked for leaks. Owners who lack the experience or are unsure of their skills should contact a profession installer.
Is Natural Gas Dangerous?
More than half the homes in Georgia use natural gas for heating, cooking, and drying clothes. It’s clean, efficient and relatively safe energy. However, natural gas is highly flammable. If it escapes into your home it can build up quickly to dangerous levels. Even the tiniest spark can set it off.
What Should I Do If There’s A Gas Leak?
If you smell rotten eggs, leave the building immediately. Do not try to identify the source of the leak, open a window, or turn on any lights – just get out. Tell anyone in and around the property to leave, too.
Do not use your phone until you are a safe distance away, because even the smallest electrical spark can be enough to trigger an explosion. Natural gas is incredibly easy to ignite, so the only safe thing to do is to get away.
What Do I Do Next?
If you think there is a gas leak, you need to dial 911 for emergency services and then contact Atlanta Gas Light’s 24 hour emergency line at 877-427-4321. Stay away from the property until the emergency response teams indicate it’s safe for you to return.
How To Stay Safe At Home
So what can you do to stay safe in your home? The Georgia Fire Marshal’s Office has some useful information on gas home heating equipment and the importance of providing proper ventilation.
It’s also vital to look after your home’s plumbing. While sewer gas isn’t as dangerous as natural gas it can be combustible and poisonous. Infrequently used drains can sometimes have their traps run dry. This allows sewer gas to enter your home. During hot summer weather, inspect your home’s drains for signs of foul smells and pour water into them to keep them from drying out.