Natural gas is used by more than 50 percent of American households as their main heating source. Natural gas is clean, efficient and relatively safe. However, because there are potential dangers associated with natural gas usage, we are available for you twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, even on holidays. Our staff is constantly training and acquiring certifications that ensure that you, the customer, receive the absolute best and top of the line employees to take care of you when you need it, should you need it. Always keep the following safety information in mind when dealing with natural gas.
Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning
The chemical properties of natural gas make it a clean fuel source. However, those same properties make it potentially dangerous for consumers if their natural gas appliances are not properly maintained. One of the dangers of poorly maintained or improperly used appliances is carbon monoxide poisoning. If a faulty furnace does not burn natural gas properly, or is not vented properly, carbon monoxide can begin to build in the home. When a person breathes carbon monoxide their brain and organs are robbed of the oxygen necessary to function properly and they can become sick and incapacitated very quickly. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to those of the flu without a fever. Those experiencing these symptoms should get out of the house and call 9-1-1, the fire department, or emergency medical services immediately.
To reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, here are a few tips:
• Install a carbon monoxide detector. These devices work similarly to a smoke detector, only they measure the amount of carbon monoxide in the air.
• Have appliances that use natural gas inspected by a qualified repair person once a year.
• Inspect the vents, flues and chimneys of all gas water heaters, furnaces and fireplaces to ensure proper ventilation of exhaust.
• Never use an oven to heat the house. This can damage the oven and cause carbon monoxide to be released into the home.
• Never sleep in a room heated by a gas or kerosene space heater that does not have proper venting.
Gas Line Leaks
While rare, natural gas line leaks can be extremely dangerous. The most telling sign of a natural gas line leak is the familiar rotten egg odor the natural gas coming into the home has. This odor is added to the natural gas so it can be detected in the event of a leak.
The biggest hazard of a gas leak is an explosion. When natural gas builds up in an enclosed area, it becomes extremely volatile. A gas build up has the potential to be explosive, or could make those in the area very sick. Gas leaks in the home can be easily prevented by ensuring flexible gas lines are inspected regularly and installed properly by licensed professionals.
Gas leaks outside the home are dangerous as well. Most gas lines coming into the home are buried underground. Before doing any job that requires digging outside, homeowners should call the the state’s One Call Service by dialing 8-1-1 at least 48 hours before digging. The utilities will be contacted and asked to mark the lines they own. After the lines have been marked safe, careful digging can begin. Municipalities, pipelines, gas distribution, telecommunication, water and electric companies have underground facilities everywhere in New Mexico. The approximate locations of Company Pipelines are generally marked with line marker posts and signs. However, company personnel shall determine the exact location of Company Pipelines. We also want to protect the Company’s Pipeline from damage by outside force and minimize disruption of service to our customers. The facility owners will either clear the facility if no underground utilities are present, or they will mark any underground lines within two working days using the standard APWA marking colors. These marks are good for ten working days. If your dig is delayed and you will need more than ten working days to complete your work, then you should call 811 again at least two working days before you dig so that the lines can be re-marked.
If you detect a strong gas odor, follow these tips:
• Do not attempt to locate the leak.
• Do not turn any electrical appliances on or off.
• Do not smoke or use any open flames.
• Leave the house and, from a safe distance, call the utility company and 9-1-1.
• When digging outside, if a natural gas line is damaged, call the utility immediately. Do not attempt to repair the line.
By following these safety tips, natural gas can continue to be a safe and efficient source of energy for the home.