Natural Gas Safety
Natural gas is a fuel that is completely safe when it is transported within sealed pipes and used as intended. However, dangerous situations may occur when natural gas leaks from pipes or is not properly burned within appliances.
Natural gas is flammable. A single flame or even a spark in the area of a leak could cause an explosion. Fortunately, natural gas leaks are very rare. Explosions are even more uncommon. The mixture of natural gas and oxygen in the air must be at a precise proportion for a spark to ignite it.
An additional danger of natural gas is the production of carbon monoxide. This invisible, odorless gas is produced when natural gas appliances aren't vented correctly or improper combustion occurs. One quick way to tell if a natural gas appliance is getting enough oxygen and is adjusted properly is to check the color of the flame on the pilot light.
A pilot burner flame light should be about 90% blue. A yellow flame indicates that the appliance isn't working properly and could be giving off harmful fumes- have it checked by a service technician right away. Keep in mind that not all problems with gas appliances will have the symptom of a yellow pilot light, and not all pilot lights are visible. Look for excessive ash or soot around a pilot light opening or air ducts. Also, check for lengthy "warm-up" times and strange noises or odors.
- Natural gas is colorless and odorless in its natural state.
- A chemical called "Mercaptan" is added to give the gas an odor so you can smell a leak immediately.
- If a slight odor of rotten eggs is observed, check the range burners and the pilot lights on your gas appliances. This may be an indicator that the gas pilot light has gone out. The pilot light can be relit by turning off the appliance and following the manufacturers steps. If the pilot light won't relight, call your local gas company.
- A strong odor means you should leave the home immediately, and then call your local gas company from a neighbor's house.
- Don't turn electrical switches on or off, or use a flashlight or telephone. These could cause an ignition of the natural gas.
- Keep the kitchen range clean. Also rinse and dry burners before reinstalling them.
- Never use a gas stove for heating. If you do, this can damage your stove and produce dangerous carbon monoxide gas.
- Keep small children away from the gas stove and all gas-burning appliances.
- Avoid wearing loose clothing when cooking. This type of clothing can accidentally be ignited by flames when you cook in them.
- Keep areas where natural gas is used, well ventilated. Ventilation is key in avoiding building up of deadly carbon monoxide gases.