Natural gas is a popular energy source, used for heating homes and office buildings, as well as for fuel for cooking. It is highly flammable and will easily ignite with even with the smallest spark of fire. A break or fracture to the pipes containing the gas (the “gas line”) can allow the natural gas to leak out and build up into high concentrations. When this happens, instead of something like the controlled flames you see on your kitchen stove or in your furnace, the buildup of gas can suddenly combust causing a devastating explosion and subsequent fire as was the case in the natural gas explosion in the plaza neighborhood on February 19, 2013.
Although natural gas is odorless in its raw form, utility service providers such as Missouri Gas Energy (MGE) add an odorant as a built-in safety precaution. This distinctive odor is intentionally formulated to smell especially bad/foul to immediately alert those in the vicinity of a potential gas leak. In addition to the risk fire, explosion, and severe burn injuries, a gas leak can also cause headaches, dizziness, and nausea.
If you suspect a gas leak in your home or office, follow these safety precautions:
- Don’t turn on a light
- Don’t switch on anything electrical
- Don’t use matches
- Extinguish an open flames such as candles
- Don’t use your phone
- ALERT OTHERS IN THE BUILDING & LEAVE IMMEDIATELY!
- Call your gas utility service provider from a safe location well away from the odor, and report the incident. Make sure you let them know where you are so that you can give them access to your home or office once they arrive.
- If you feel light-headed or nauseous, seek medical treatment (and let your doctor know that you suspected a gas leak)
- DO NOT RE-ENTER THE BUILDING UNTIL THE GAS COMPANY INSPECTORS HAVE DECLARED IT AS SAFE!
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