What to do if you smell gas

What to Do If You Smell a Natural Gas Odor

Natural gas is lighter than air, and it has a very high ignition temperature. For your protection, The Natural Gas Company adds a distinctive odor to natural gas, so leaks are easily detected.

If you smell a natural gas odor —

  • DON’T panic.
  • DON’T light a match, candle or cigarette.
  • DON’T turn electrical appliances or lights on or off.
  • From a safe location, call The Gas Company (731-642-5635) 24 hours a day, seven days a week; or call 9-1-1.

How to shut off your gas

How to Shut Off Your Gas

Turn off your gas meter ONLY if you smell gas or hear the hissing sound of gas escaping.

It is important to know exactly where your gas meter is located (See Diagram A ), and how to shut it off in case of emergencies (See Diagram B).

 

Diagram A

As you face the meter, you will see a pipe running from the ground to the meter. There is a shut-off valve running parallel with the pipe usually located about 6 to 8 inches above the ground.

Take a 12″ adjustable wrench (or larger) and turn the valve 1/4 turn in either direction, until the valve is crosswise to the pipe. (See Diagram B)

Keep a 12″ adjustable wrench (or larger) with your emergency supplies, or next to your valve.

 

Diagram B

For safety, a shut-off valve should be installed at every gas appliance. If a leak occurs at a specific appliance, the valve will permit you to turn off the gas at the appliance rather than shutting off all gas service at the meter. Some valves require a wrench to turn them. See Diagram C.

Diagram C

After shutting off your gas, if you aren’t certain how to safely restore gas service to your home, or how to inspect your appliances, call The Natural Gas Company or a qualified service provider such as a licensed plumber.

Do not use the gas meter for electric bonding

Do Not Use the Gas Meter for Electric Bonding

Electric bonding to or use of Paris Henry County Public Utility Districts (Natural Gas Company’s) gas service piping, gas risers or meter facilities for electric grounding is not permitted.  Use caution when touching gas meters. Faulty household appliances or faulty household electrical wiring could inadvertently introduce electricity to gas facilities.

General Emergency Preparedness

General Emergency Preparedness

Many natural disasters and other emergencies can strike without warning. In addition, after a major incident, there’s a good chance that public safety services will be busy handling emergencies. Your best defense is to be prepared at all times.

Steps To Take Before an Emergency

  • Be prepared. Know where your gas meter is located and keep a 12″ adjustable wrench (or larger) with your emergency supplies, or next to your gas valve. Even in the case of an earthquake or other emergencies, turn off your gas meter ONLY if you smell gas or hear gas leaking.
  • To help prevent your water heater from moving or toppling in an earthquake, strap it firmly to the wall studs in two places — the upper and lower one-third of the tank — with heavy bolts and metal tape. Be sure to place the lower strap at least 4 inches above the thermostat controls. Kits are often available at your local hardware store.
  • Replace any semi-rigid aluminum or copper gas tubing with approved flexible metal appliance connector.
  • Check safety devices, such as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, to ensure that they are functioning properly
  • Check your furnace and other gas appliances for safe operation. Have a qualified heating contractor make any needed repairs

Developing an Emergency Plan

Most of us have at one time or another thought about what we would do in the event of an emergency. Unfortunately, too many of us never go beyond just thinking about it. Even worse, some people believe having stored food supplies and a few thoughts about what they would do in an emergency is being prepared. The truth is without formalizing your thoughts on how you want to approach various emergencies you are not prepared. In other words, being prepared means not only having supplies but having a written plan that includes training and practice. Developing a written plan not only organizes your thoughts it also provides a systematic and repeatable approach to emergencies. It’s also an excellent tool for training and practicing.
Your plan should be tailored to meet your specific situation and the special actions required to meet specific types of emergencies. For example, what action should be taken in the event of a fire versus an earthquake or flood. Here are a few examples of emergencies for you to consider:

  • House or wild fire
  • Flooding
  • Earthquake
  • Intruder
  • School or work emergency
  • Large chemical spills near your neighborhood

Create an emergency plan for your family, identifying two places for the family to meet — 1) a place outside your home and 2) a spot away from your neighborhood in case you can’t return home.

  • Practice the plan with your family, including your children
  • Make sure your children are aware of the routes away from home
  • Develop a plan for family pets and livestock. Evacuation shelters may not allow animals
  • Plan safe routes away from your home and business to high, safe ground
  • Designate a friend outside the area who family members can call if separated
  • Review the emergency plans at your workplace, your children’s school or daycare center and other places where members of your family regularly spend time away from home
  • Review and update your plan, as needed, at least annually.
  • Keep current important documents in a safe-deposit box
  • Know if your home is in an area at risk of flooding or landslide
  • Check the condition of your roof
  • Clean debris from drains around your home or yard

 

Emergency supplies checklist

Now is the time to stock up on at least 72 hours worth of emergency supplies that add to your safety and comfort during and after an earthquake.

Below are some essential items to include in your emergency preparedness kit:
• Bottled water – three day supply of bottled water (one gallon per person, per day)
• First-aid kit, handbook, and essential medications
• Packaged, dried or canned food and any special diet items
• Special provisions for babies, elderly, disabled family members, and pet
• Non-electric can opener
• Blankets or sleeping bags
• A portable radio, flashlight, batteries and light sticks
• Extra eyeglasses and sets of house and car keys
• Fire extinguisher –A-B-C type
• Rubber boots, rain pancho,
• Plastic trash bags
• Sturdy pair of shoes, warm clothing and personal hygiene items
• Cash

Steps For After an Emergency

  • DO NOT turn off your meter unless you smell gas or hear gas leaking.
    • Contact a licensed contractor or The Natural Gas Company to relight any gas appliances or pilot lights that are out. Do not turn gas back on by yourself.
    • It is recommended that a shut-off valve be installed at every gas appliance. If a leak occurs at a specific appliance, the valve will permit you to turn off the gas at the appliance rather than shutting off all gas service at the meter. Some valves require a wrench to turn them.
    • Check your water heater and furnace vents. If the venting system becomes separated during an earthquake, it could leak hazardous fumes to your home. Signs of an improperly vented appliance may include moisture on the inside of windows or an unusual odor when the appliance is in operation.
    • DO NOT use any electrical appliances until you’re sure there are no gas leaks.
  • Keep informed of the situation through local radio and TV
  • If evacuation is necessary, prepare an evacuation kit, including personal hygiene items, change of clothes, bedding and medication, if possible. Food, shelter and first aid are available at shelters
  • If it is safe to do so, check on your neighbors, especially elderly and disabled persons
  • Use the telephone only for family emergency needs or to report unsafe or dangerous conditions
  • Do not use 911 unless you have a life-threatening emergency
  • Avoid unnecessary trips. If you must travel during an emergency, dress in warm, loose layers of clothing and sturdy shoes. Advise others of your destination
  • Use flashlights — NOT lanterns, matches or candles — to examine buildings. Flammable gases may be inside
  • Follow instructions of local authorities regarding the safety of drinking water. If in doubt, boil or purify water before drinking or call public health officials
  • Avoid “sightseeing” in disaster areas. You may hamper rescue efforts or place yourself in danger

Preparing for an earthquake

Preparing for An Earthquake

Do a Home “Hazard Hunt.”
Walk through your rooms and look for things that could fall when shaken. Identify good places to “duck ,cover and hold” (see below). Even though you may not be able to secure every item you believe could fall, at least you will have identified the safe and unsafe areas of your home. Their fresh eyes can often find things you miss.

Practice your “Duck, Cover and Hold.”
Duck or drop to the floor, take cover under a sturdy desk or table, and hold onto it. If you have children, teach them how to “duck, cover and hold”, and be sure to practice it with them often.

During an Earthquake

Duck or drop to the floor, take cover under a sturdy desk or table, and hold onto it so that it doesn’t move away from you. Wait there until the shaking stops.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide

To help keep your gas appliances operating safely and efficiently, The Natural Gas Company or a licensed heating contractor or plumber should check your gas appliances every year. Not performing annual maintenance may result in inefficient appliance operation, and in some cases dangerous exposure to carbon monoxide.

What causes carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is formed when carbon-based fuels, such as kerosene, gasoline, propane, natural gas, oil, charcoal or wood, are burned with inadequate amounts of oxygen, creating a condition known as incomplete combustion. In the case of home gas appliances, this can be caused by improper installation, poor maintenance, or other appliance misuse or failure.

Carbon monoxide poisoning

When incomplete combustion occurs in your home’s gas appliances, carbon monoxide is produced, and this can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning of you and your family. The early stages of carbon monoxide poisoning produce unexplained flu-like symptoms, such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath and mental confusion. Since carbon monoxide displaces the oxygen in the blood, prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide can lead to death by asphyxiation.

Signs that may indicate the presence of carbon monoxide

  • A yellow, large and unsteady gas appliance burner flame (with the exception of decorative gas log appliances).
  • An unusual pungent odor when the appliance is operating. This may indicate the creation of aldehydes, a by-product of incomplete combustion.
  • Unexplained nausea, drowsiness and flu-like symptoms.

What to do if you suspect carbon monoxide is present in your home:

  • Immediately turn off and stop using the suspected gas appliance.
  • Seek medical attention if anyone in the home experiences possible carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms.
  • Contact The Natural Gas Company at 642-5635 or a licensed heating contractor or plumber immediately to have the appliance inspected.
  • Don’t use the suspected gas appliance until it has been inspected, serviced and determined to be safe by The Natural Gas Company or a licensed heating contractor or plumber.

How to maintain and use gas appliances to prevent carbon monoxide

  • Vacuum around burner compartments, and inspect and replace furnace filters on forced-air units or central heating systems according to manufacturer instructions.
  • Make sure to properly replace the front panels of a forced-air unit or the burner compartment door of a gas wall heater.
  • Never store anything near a gas appliance that might interfere with normal appliance airflow.
  • Have all gas appliances and venting repairs done by a qualified and licensed heating or plumbing contractor.
  • When using your gas fireplace, make sure the damper is open.
  • Never use your gas oven for space heating.
  • Gas appliance maintenance is always the homeowner’s responsibility. However, The Gas Company will perform appliance safety checks upon request.

Should you worry about carbon monoxide?

Accidental carbon monoxide poisoning from natural gas appliances is statistically rare. During the last 20 years, the number of deaths related to unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning has declined substantially. However, while the chance of dying from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning from a home gas appliance is rare, it is still essential to perform regular maintenance on your home gas appliances to ensure your safety. For these reasons, it is recommended that you have your gas furnace checked at least once a year by The Natural Gas Company or a licensed heating contractor or plumber.

Carbon monoxide home alarms

The decision on whether or not to purchase and install a carbon monoxide alarm is one of personal choice. Alarms may provide an extra level of safety, but they also require routine maintenance and replacement at least every three to five years to perform properly. Even with alarms in place, regular gas appliance maintenance is still required. Inspection and routine maintenance are still the best defense against accidental carbon monoxide poisoning from natural gas appliances.

Funace Safety

Furnace Safety

It is important to maintain your furnace for safety and operating efficiency. Follow the tips listed below for the types of furnace in your home. Never use your oven, range or outdoor barbecue to heat your home because these appliances are not designed for this purpose.

Floor Furnace

  • Avoid lint build-up by vacuuming floor furnace regularly.
  • Keep children away from the grill, as it gets very hot.
  • Avoid fires – don’t place rugs, furniture or combustible items over the grill or block the airflow.

Wall Furnace

  • Clean inside the burner compartment of built-in vented wall furnaces once a month during the heating season to prevent lint build-up.

Central Gravity Furnace

  • Keep furnace heat registers free of obstructions.
  • Don’t store items nearby which might stop the airflow.

Central Forced-Air Heating

  • Many gas furnaces use air from the room to operate. Lint and dust carried by air, or items stored in or around the furnace can block airflow. In order to operate safely and efficiently, your gas furnace must be kept free of dust and lint build-up or other obstructions stored near the furnace, such as newspapers or cleaning equipment.
  • Most forced-air furnaces have a filter that cleans the air before heating and circulating it throughout the home. The filter should be checked monthly for lint build-up during periods of furnace use and cleaned or replaced if necessary.
  • When installing a new or cleaned filter, be sure to re-install the front panel door of the furnace properly so it fits snugly. Never operate the furnace without the front-panel door properly in place because doing so may create the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
    • Most newer forced-air furnaces have a safety switch that prevents furnace operation when the filter compartment door/panel is not in place. Some older forced-air furnaces do not have a safety switch and can be operated with the filter compartment door/panel off or not properly in place.
    • These older furnaces, when installed in a closet and operated with the panel/door not in place, will circulate carbon monoxide throughout the house.

CAUTION: Unvented gas heaters are unsafe

Using an unvented gas heater in your home is a violation of the
These heaters are not approved for use in homes because —

  • Poor operation can result in an accumulation of hazardous fumes.
  • Unless a room heater has enough air from an outside vent or an open window, all of the oxygen in a room can be used up, resulting in illness or death.
  • The flames in these heaters are not fully covered, which could result in fires.
  • Never use your oven, range or outdoor barbecue to heat your home because these appliances are not designed for this purpose

Furnace Recalls

Water Heaters

Water Heaters

  • All gas appliances have a main burner flame and many also have a pilot flame. To reduce the risk of flammable vapors being ignited by these flames, follow these tips:
    • Water heaters installed in garages must be elevated so the pilot or other source of ignition is a minimum of 18 inches above the floor or installed per local building codes or the manufacturers’ installation instructions.
    • Never store or use flammable products such as gasoline, paint thinner, or cleaning products in the same room or near any gas or heat-producing appliance.
  • Earthquakes can cause improperly secured water heaters to move or topple. To help prevent this, strap it firmly to the wall studs in two places — the upper and lower one-third of the tank — with heavy bolts and metal tape. Be sure to place the lower strap at least 4 inches above the thermostat controls. Kits are often available at your local hardware store.
  • Lower water heater temperature to prevent scalding accidents. Water temperatures above 125 degrees can cause severe burns or even death.