Keep Your Family Safe: How to Detect & Avoid Gas Emergencies

Last updated on September 13th, 2015 at 12:12 am

As we steamroll into the winter months and the holiday season it is almost certain that there will be more reason to use the gas supplied to your home. Whether it’s in the form of cooking more with your gas stove or using your gas furnace to heat your home or your water heater, winter is prime time for gas usage and also gas emergencies. Have you ever come home to the sound of hissing or a rotten egg smell in your home or garage? Well if you have you should know that the rotten egg smell was put there by the gas company to alert you that gas is leaking in the area and there is a problem.

What can cause gas to leak in my home? The gas coming into your home is usually piped in and can be piped to all areas of your house depending on your home. The gas leak itself may be from something as simple as the pilot light being out in your stove or water heater, or it can be as complicated as a broken gas pipe in the area due to digging or construction.  Regardless of what caused the gas leak you need to be aware that this is a dangerous situation and remove yourself and everyone else with you from the situation. Next you should call 911 from OUTSIDE your home and let the fire department determine what the problem is and if necessary work with the gas company to resolve the matter. The few minutes it takes for the fire department to arrive and assess the situation could mean the difference between life and death for you or your family.

How can I know if there is gas leaking into my home while I am there? Since not all gas coming into your home has a smell, meaning there are a few types of gases and some are odorless and tasteless such as Carbon Monoxide, being aware of the signs of a gas exposure are key. If someone has been in an enclosed area with machinery or a motor and is now having shortness of breath, chest pain, red puffy cheeks, lightheadedness or any of these symptoms, remove them from the area, ventilate the area and do not hesitate to call 911, these symptoms can happen quickly and emergency attention may be needed. A good way to monitor the gas levels in your home is a gas detector. Gas detectors are an inexpensive way to monitor the levels of gas in your home and are available in combination form to detect more than just one type of gas and alert you before gas levels become life threatening. These detectors are available at any hardware store and possibly through your alarm monitoring company as well.

Where can I place gas detectors in my home to be most effective? When it comes to keeping your family safe there can never be enough, but think of placing them like you would smoke alarms. placing detectors outside of bedroom areas, any bedroom above a garage is a must as a car may be left running for some time, in areas where things are heated such as the kitchen or work shed, and the rule for a gas detector sounding its alarms is very easy to remember. If you hear it go off then you and your family get out! There are many stories in the news about carbon monoxide poisonings and people dying and had they had properly placed/functioning gas detectors it is reasonable to think some if not all of these sad situations could have been avoided.

Please be safe …and have a Merry Christmas!

About the Author

Greg Atwood is a Firefighter /Paramedic in Coral Gables Florida and works for the Coral Gables Fire Rescue. He is an American Heart Association certified instructor in BLS ( Basic Life Support ), ACLS ( Advanced Cardiopulmonary Life Support ), and PALS ( Pediatric Advanced Life Support ). Greg currently lives in Miami Florida with his beautiful wife Alexa and their 2 sons, Connor and Jake. Greg is a member of the PedSafe Expert team

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