When it comes to fuels, natural gas offers several advantages over other fossil fuels.
Besides being extremely reliable, it is among the cleanest energy sources, especially when compared to coal or nuclear energy. It is also less expensive, can be transported and stored easily, and can be used for various purposes.
However, there are a few disadvantages to using natural gas as well. It is a non-renewable energy source that will get exhausted in time, just like coal and petroleum. But the most significant disadvantage is the risk involved. Gas is safe, but improper handling of this highly flammable gas can lead to loss of life and property.
Generally, this happens when a gas leak in your house occurs, resulting from faulty installations or appliance malfunction. Even a tiny leak can be dangerous. You should only use a licensed gas fitting service when installing your gas connections and appliances.
As such, this guide will discuss some of the dangers associated with natural gas leaks and some natural gas safety tips.
So, let’s begin!
Detecting A Gas Leak
Before we look at why a gas leak is dangerous, we must know how to detect such leaks. Since gas is odourless, it is not easy to smell gas leaks. Check out what natural gas smells like.
Generally, the gas supply or utility company adds chemicals called mercaptans, which smell like rotten eggs, to the gas to make it easier to detect a leak. Another sign indicating a gas leak is that your gas stove flame changes to orange from blue, and a white cloud may follow the rotting eggs smell.
Alternatively, there may even be a hissing sound from the gas line when you use natural gas, indicating a leak. You need to be ready when you smell gas on your property.
Why Is A Gas Leak Dangerous?
Here are some of the reasons and real dangers that can answer the question of how harmful is a gas leak:
1. Risks Of Explosions And Fires
Gas leaks can occur due to a damaged gas line, and detecting a gas leak without a natural gas detector may be challenging. Also, the gas can easily combine with flammable substances and is highly combustible. This means if it comes into contact with a spark, it can lead to an explosion or fire, resulting in property damage and even loss of life.
Generally, the risk of fires is greater if natural gas leakages occur near electrical appliances like water heaters or gas appliances like gas stoves. To detect natural gas leaks, you can install carbon monoxide detectors as a safety measure to see high gas levels in the area.
2. Health Risks
Even a minor gas leak in the gas lines can accumulate natural gas over time, polluting the air in areas like your office or home. A natural gas leak will reduce the oxygen in the area, making breathing difficult.
Additionally, it can cause problems like fatigue, irregular breathing, nausea, headaches and dizziness. When inhaled in large quantities, it may lead to long-term effects and more severe issues, such as memory loss, coordination problems, extreme fatigue and loss of consciousness. Other symptoms of natural gas inhalation include depression, nose bleeds, natural gas poisoning, flatulence, chest pain, vision problems etc.
Among the various health hazards posed by a natural gas leak, carbon monoxide poisoning may be the most dangerous and is among the most common forms of gas poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a natural gas byproduct that undergoes improper combustion and can reduce the oxygen in the blood, resulting in tissue damage.
In cases of exposure to this gas, it is a good idea to seek the help of a healthcare professional. Don’t forget to install a carbon monoxide detector.
3. Damage To Vegetation And Plants
Burning natural gas in the vicinity of vegetation may result in the gas spreading to the plants, which can cause chlorosis. In this condition, plants may face colour loss, which affects their photosynthesis ability, and it can then cause necrosis, in which plant cells start dying.
When that happens, the plant roots will suffer from oxygen deprivation, leading to asphyxiation and causing the plants to dry up.
4. May Cause the Death Of Animals
Like humans, animals can suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning, which can be fatal. This is especially true in the case of small household pets, and you may notice physical symptoms like lethargy or weakness in your pet. Other symptoms pets may exhibit include difficulty breathing, suffocation, seizures and vomiting.
In such cases, it is essential to immediately look for signs of a gas leak and remove your pet from the premises. Long-term exposure to carbon monoxide can lead to drowsiness, confusion and even death.
5. Dangerous For The Environment
Natural gas is a mixture of several gases, one of which is methane, a greenhouse gas. This means it is very effective in absorbing infrared radiation emitted from the earth, leading to a rise in the temperature.
While methane does not last as long as other greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, it is much more potent and, therefore, can cause more damage. It can absorb a greater amount of energy and can, thus, accelerate the process of global warming more effectively than other greenhouse gases.
Historically, methane has significantly contributed to the rising temperatures leading to global warming. Methane trapped below the ocean for several years solidifies into methane hydrate trapped under the sea, which, when released, can worsen the problem of global warming.
When A Natural Gas Leak Occurs
There may be various causes for a gas leak, including a faulty gas appliance, improper installations, poor maintenance, worn-out or degraded connections, etc. If you suspect a gas leak, the first thing to do is to go outside in fresh air to prevent the accumulation of gases like carbon monoxide in the bloodstream.
Open the windows and doors to ensure adequate ventilation, reducing the potential danger of explosions and fires.
Also, it is vital to call up the local fire department, which can inspect the location for a leak and take measures to resolve the issue. And to prevent such problems from occurring again, ensure you contact a licensed plumber to install natural gas appliances and undertake regular maintenance.
Here at Fixed Today, we have a team of professional licensed gas fitters to handle your gas fitting services and gas repairs. Our gas fitters have a track record of more than a decade fixing gas issues and ensuring your appliance works correctly year-round. We can also perform gas inspections on your gas lines regularly. Don’t hesitate to give us a call if you run into a natural gas leak or if you have a burst gas pipe or installation for gas appliances, gas furnace, gas water heater and gas meter.
These safety tips can reduce the risks posed by natural gas leaks significantly.