Oct. 7-13 is Public Natural Gas Week, and Colorado Springs Utilities said it is important to remind people that there are dangers associated with the gas.
According to Jessica Nesvold, the senior gas regulations compliance engineer with Colorado Springs Utilities, the gas is safe when sealed in pipes and burned properly. She added that there are dangers if the gas begins to leak from faulty pipes or is burned inefficiently.
Nesvold said a leak can cause air to become flammable, and "if it continues in an enclosed space, you may then have a potential for explosion."
According to CSU, here are a few ways to detect a gas leak:
- Rotten egg or skunky odor, which results from the addition of mercaptan to give the otherwise odorless gas an odor.
- Bubbles above a buried gas line after watering or rain.
- Dirt or dust blowing from a hole where a gas line may be exposed.
- Hissing sound near a gas line or gas appliance.
- A natural-gas meter dial that continues to move after all natural gas appliances and equipment have been shut off.
If you detect a gas leak, here is what CSU recommends:
- Leave the area immediately and call 911 or 719-448-4800. Use a neighbor's phone if needed.
- Do not return until the area is declared safe.
- Don't stop to open a window.
- Don't touch anything that might create a spark. Some ignition sources include telephones, cellphones, pagers, light switches, garage door openers, flashlights, vehicles and other running equipment.
- Stay away from carpeted areas to avoid sparks of static electricity.
If natural gas is burned inefficiently, it can produce carbon monoxide.
"Basically what is happening is you don't have enough air to burn all of the natural gas correctly, and so then you are going to be producing carbon monoxide," said Nesvold.
Carbon monoxide can be emitted from appliances like stoves, fireplaces, driers, furnaces and hot water heaters.
To reduce the risk of carbon monoxide exposure, CSU suggests residents:
- Have a qualified professional annually inspect their heating and cooling equipment. The contractor should check appliance vents for corrosion and blockage. The appliance itself should be checked for cleanliness, proper adjustment and approved connectors.
- Never operate a vehicle, lawn mower, snowblower or other fuel-burning equipment in an attached garage, even with the door open.
- Do not use a gas range or oven for heat. Never burn charcoal indoors.
- When camping, do not operate a fuel-burning heater, lantern, or stove inside your tent or camper without proper ventilation. Always follow the manufacturer's directions for use.
- Make sure clothes dryers are properly vented and free of lint.
CSU strongly encourages its more than 180,000 customers to have an inspector check their pipes and appliances annually to prevent any of these issues from occurring.
For further information, contact CSU at 719-448-4800 or visit its website.