Natural gas is an amazing way to heat your living space. It’s also by far the safest way to do so, by a long shot. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s completely safe and there are no precautions whatsoever to be taken when working with natural gas, despite its many safety advantages. There are still dangers associated with the use of natural gas, as with any other fuel, and one must be cautious at all times, and make sure things are being done in the proper manner always.
Natural gas is not poisonous in and of itself, which is a big plus compared to burning other fuels, such as heating oil, or coal back in the day, whose fumes were very poisonous to breathe. However, if enough natural gas fills an area, it is still possible for people breathing that air to suffer from oxygen deprivation, and in severe cases, it can even be fatal for that same reason. This is why it is highly recommended, and in most cases legally required, for an expert to deal with natural gas.
The other danger to natural gas, of course, is its flammability. If there is a gas leak and somebody sparks a flame of any sort, the potential for loss of life and valuables is very high at that point! Of course, natural gas all around the world has an odor added to it for this reason, since if it were odorless, it would really be dangerous to work with. This still remains another reason, however, why people need to understand how to work with natural gas; not everyone is automatically qualified.
What to do if you smell gas
If you smell that familiar sulphurous smell in the air, you need to know what it means and how to react. Firstly, be aware that natural gas is lighter than air, unlike its cousin, propane. So, if there is a gas leak in a room, the room will fill up from the ceiling down. This requires lots of caution, and naturally, even more caution in houses framed with wood, which is common in the UK and other countries. Here is a quick checklist of what to do in these situations:
- Turn off all lights
- Turn off and unplug all electrical appliances
- ABSOLUTELY avoid any open flames
- Shut off the main gas valve
- Call a professional to fix it
The good news is, by law, there is enough odor-causing substance in natural gas that it can be detected by a human with a normal sense of smell long before it’s becomes a danger. Typically, a human being will first note the smell when the concentration is still at a mere 20% of what it would take for the air to become flammable or for it to case respiratory distress. This gives you a big window in which to act correctly to avoid any potential big disasters!
People often think that they can handle a natural gas leak by themselves, and in many cases they may be right. However, the best thing to do for so many reasons is to call a professional who will take matters into his or her own hands. If there is combustion or people suffer respiratory illness, even if there is no major injury, damage or loss of life, one could easily be held legally liable for such. However, if you get certified in gas safety yourself, you will be equipped to handle this.
Getting a gas safety certificate is a great option, especially for people who can’t afford high labor costs for professionals, or for people living in remote areas where it’s hard to get a professional person all the way out there. There are many great options for courses out there and their prices are generally reasonable. This will also certify you as legally able to work on gas leaks or emergencies of any nature. If you use natural gas to heat your home, it may even be a life saver at some point.
Of course, you will need to make sure you have the proper equipment at hand. It’s very important to make sure you have the correct face gear, for example, which will allow you to breathe no matter how high the concentration of natural gas gets in the area. It’s also important to have fireproof gear on in the unlikely but highly dangerous event of an explosion or other type of spontaneous combustion. These types of things can also, in the right circumstances, save your own life, or protect you from undue injury.
In general, it can be said that it’s great to be prepared, and that we should never take any type of technology for granted, as there are always risks and dangers involved. Being prepared for a natural gas emergency in your own home will give you peace of mind for years and years to come, and it may do much more than that in those few situations where emergency intervention is required. Having respect for natural gas and how its systems work will allow you to do this.