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Natural Gas & Safety
Gas Leak Information
Here are four simple steps to help you and your family detect if there is a natural gas LEAK:
- Listen for the Symptoms: Most commonly, a hissing sound, either in your house or yard, is associated with natural gas leaks – and we’re not talking about the noise from your tea kettle. This faint hiss can be heard when your natural gas appliances are turned on or off.
- Eyes on the Warning Signs: Indoors, you may become aware of a natural gas leak if your stovetop’s blue flames suddenly turn orange or yellow. A discolored flame indicates that the appliance is not working properly and could be giving off harmful fumes. In addition, an excessive amount of ash or soot around a pilot light could signal a larger problem. However, most visible signs are outdoors. These include seeing dirt blowing up from the ground on a windless day or witnessing bubbling water without explanation. Discolored or dead vegetation in an otherwise green area is also a sign, as natural gas blocks a plant’s source of oxygen.
- Aroma is Key: What does a gas leak smell like? Although natural gas is a colorless, odorless fuel, a chemical called mercaptan is added to it as a safety precaution. This gives natural gas a distinctive odor associated with rotten eggs. Make sure everyone in your home is aware of what odorized natural gas smells like. If you ever smell a sulfur-like odor, don’t assume something has gone bad in your fridge – consider it a warning that harmful vapors may be loose in the air.
- Keep Away: If you suspect a natural gas leak inside or outside your home, immediately stop what you’re doing, leave the premises and call 911. Inhaling high concentrations of natural gas could lead to fatigue, lightheadedness or even loss of consciousness. Moreover, because natural gas is highly combustible, a leak can increase the risk of fire or explosion.
What to do if You Think There is a Gas Leak
- Everyone should leave the home or area immediately and warn others to stay away.
- DO NOT turn lights on or off, use a cell phone, light a match, or cause an ignition.
- DO NOT start or shut off a vehicle or equipment that could cause sparks.
- DO NOT attempt to turn natural gas valves on or off.
- From a safe location, call 9-1-1 or ATMOS Energy gas emergency number 866-322-8667
The Highland Park Department of Public Safety and ATMOS Energy will immediately dispatch personnel to check that your area is safe, at no charge.
Safety Tips for the Garage
All gas appliances have a main burner flame and many also have a pilot flame. To reduce the risk of flammable vapors being ignited by these flames, follow the basic safety tips below:
- Water heaters installed in garages must be elevated so the pilot light or other ignition source is a minimum of 18 inches above the floor to reduce the potential for fire or explosion due to spillage or leakage of combustible liquids in the garage.
- Never store or use flammable products such as gasoline, paint thinner, or cleaning products in the same room or near any gas appliance. This is especially true in the garage.
- Lower water heater temperature to prevent scalding accidents. Water temperatures above 125 degrees can cause severe burns.
- Avoid dirt build-up around a garage furnace by vacuuming or sweeping around it regularly. Don’t place rugs, furniture, or any combustible items over the grill or block the airflow.
Visit ATMOS Energy's Website for important information about calling 8-1-1 before you dig in your yard.