A beautiful evening with family, everyone sipping tea and having a chit-chat. But did you smell something strange? Not paying attention because what could go wrong in here anyway, am I right? Well, maybe that’s not true.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 430 people die in a single year in the U.S. due to CO poisoning, while 50,000 visit emergencies due to accidental CO poisoning. You may consider your home the safest place, but if neglected: it could turn out otherwise.
Sitting on Danger
You might have heard about a gas line explosion or a house fire in the news or from a friend. While this news is horrifying, it is true. Fortunately, there are rare cases of such extremity.
But inhaling a gas leak or Carbon monoxide gas can leave you with other respiratory disorders. Your body absorbs CO much faster than Oxygen, and people can die due to; Carbon Monoxide poisoning during their sleep without even realizing any of the symptoms!
Therefore, it is paramount; to stay aware of the gas pipelines and appliances at your home. If they’re working right, or are they causing a leak? Proper installation and investigation can prevent your loved ones from any potential danger.
Causes of House Fires and Explosions
There could be many causes involved that aggravate a leak to a house fire. Some of these are:
- Faulty manufactured appliances.
- Old or defective pipelines
- Improper installation of machines and pipelines
- Unsafe use of the gas appliance
Old or neglected households are more likely to get these problems. However, earthquakes or other natural calamities can also weaken or damage pipelines.
Prevention and Precautions
Taking the right measure at the right time can save you early on before facing any catastrophe. We listed down a few steps to safeguard your house:
Gas Safety Record:
A cp12 or a gas safety certificate is a document handed by a registered gas safe engineer after a complete investigation and inspection of your house.
It is an annual check for gas works that involves installing, repairing, and inspecting every gas appliance in your house. According to Health and Safety Executives, a landlord must get their house checked for a gas safety certificate.
We advise you to check the ID of your registered engineer. An unregistered one can impose more danger to your safety.
All gas appliances installed in your household should come with proper ventilation. If the ventilation is blocked, get it corrected as soon as possible. In the case of; vent-free heaters, check if their automatic shut-off feature is working well.
A fault in a gas tank or gas line and a leakage can lead to a horrible natural gas explosion. The gas build-up will not only make the boiler explode but reaches everywhere in the facility where a gas leak is. A boiler’s thorough inspection will ensure its safe and efficient functioning without any worries.
Installing Gas Detectors:
Carbon Monoxide is a deadly gas. Therefore, safety measures should be taken, and install a CO detector. It can detect when flammable gas is getting burnt.
Similarly, a natural gas detector installed by a gas-safe engineer; is used to detect any gas pile-up. These detectors can sense a leakage and set off an audible alarm so that you can make an emergency exit and stay safe.
Maintain Gas Valve:
Many appliances have an ignition source, also called a pilot light. Ensure that the pilot light stays on and doesn’t get switched off accidentally. In this case, gas accumulation may occur that could take time to eventually; get noticed.
While some appliances come with an automatic shut-off feature, others don’t. For the later part, you have to manually cut the gas flow or turn the main gas valve off (usually present outside the house).
Now that we’ve discussed the preventive measures let’s dig deep into ”what to do in an emergency?”
Natural gas is highly flammable and capable of massive destruction. If you sense any gas leak;
- Open all doors and windows for ventilation
- Leave the house as soon as possible
- Keep a fire extinguisher at the site. Small fires can be controlled with it (by a properly trained individual)
- Turn off the main gas valve outside the house
- Contact the emergency number or 911 far from the site and in a safe place
If you sense or the alarm tells you a gas leak, do not try to locate the source yourself. Avoid using a candle, cell phone, or any other source that can cause a spark or ignition. It’s better and highly recommended to stay calm in such a situation, evacuate from the site, and let the officials handle the situation.
Signs to Look Out For
Be it carbon monoxide or natural gas, both are colourless and odourless: but in case of a leakage, both show some physical symptoms indicating a need for a house inspection. These signs include:
- Breathing difficulty
- Reoccurring headaches
- Nausea or reduced appetite
- Ringing sound in the ear
Apart from physical symptoms, some signs are visible around the house;
- Hissing sound or clunking noises
- Bubbles in standing water or dust clouds if there’s an outside leak
- The smell of sulphur or rotten eggs
- House plants begin to die suddenly
Observe your surroundings; if you experience these signs and symptoms, leave the area immediately and don’t panic.
Since house fires are, fortunately, rare and result in few or huge casualties, a gas leak can still affect you in many other ways. From physical symptoms to its effect on mental health, a gas leak for prolonged periods can affect your quality of life. It includes;
- Mood disorder
- Memory Problems
- Difficulty in concentration
- Suffocation and lastly
- Loss of consciousness
Inhaling gas in excess amounts leads to deprivation of Oxygen in the body. The biggest health concern is respiratory disorders. Prolonged leakages can worsen coughing conditions into wheezing or inflamed air pathways.
It can also lead to Asthma or more reduction of the functioning of respiratory organs. If a gas leak gets neglected, the symptom may worsen and cause a gas poisoning incident, ultimately leading to death.
To Wrap Things Up
Gas leaks either wreck a house or contribute to climate change, in the least. Methane in natural gas is an enormous threat to global warming than Carbon dioxide.
Carbon monoxide, on the other hand, is a deadly gas. Odourless and colourless, hence hard to detect. But it enters the body and disrupts your blood circulation and brain functioning.
A few preventive measures can be taken that can guarantee the safety of you and your loved ones;
- Assure your house gets an annual gas safety inspection
- Ask your landlord for a CP12 certificate before moving to a new house
- Install detectors and maintain pilot lights
- Verify adequate ventilation.
- Manage to keep a fire extinguisher at the site and all the combustible materials out of sight
- Finally, educate your family about acting in case of an emergency
Gas leaks, although rare but can impose your family in great danger. Minor steps taken earlier can protect you from grave incidents.
We hope this compilation of the effects of a gas leak, signs, and prevention can help you understand the danger of living with deteriorating pipelines.