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Natural Gas Leaks

The following signs may indicate a natural gas piping leak or failure:

  • Dirt being blow into the air;
  • Water being blown into the air at a pond, river or creek;
  • Continuous bubbling in wet, flooded areas;
  • Fire at or near exposed piping;
  • Fames apparently emanating from the ground;
  • Dead or brown vegetation in an otherwise moist or green field;
  • A smell resembling rotten egg.

What to do if a Leak Occurs?

If you smell gas in your home or street, make sure you call 000 immediately. Following this, call your natural gas distributor, ATCO Gas, on 13 13 52.

  • Turn off the gas at your gas meter or cylinder;
  • Turn off all appliances, including your electrical appliances and pilot lights;
  • Contact a licensed gas fitter to come and check out the problem;
  • Open all of your doors and windows to help with ventilation, but only if is safe to do so; and
  • Extinguish all naked flames if it’s safe to do so.

If a fire breaks out and poses a threat to you, your family or your home, call 000 immediately.

  • Fire blankets are inexpensive, easy to use, and they’re a great addition to your kitchen. By simply pulling the tabs to open the blanket, you can smother a small fire;
  • If you decide to invest in a fire extinguisher for your premises, make sure you select the right type for the intended use. For example, you can choose an extinguisher for your kitchen designed for use on cooking oil and fat fires;
  • Make sure smoke alarms are functioning properly;
  • If your clothing happens to catch fire, make sure you “stop, drop and roll” until the flames have been extinguished entirely.

Nature of Hazard

The common hazards of escaping unburnt gas are:

  • Fire;
  • Explosion; and
  • Asphyxiation.

The common hazards of partially burnt gas are:

  • Asphyxiation; and
  • Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon Monoxide combines with haemoglobin in blood and is pumped around the body. This prevents the blood from carrying oxygen and starves the body tissues. Even small concentrations of carbon monoxide can be lethal.

Some of the symptoms associated with inhaling Carbon Monoxide are:

  • Giddiness;
  • Lack of control of the muscles;
  • Shortness of breath;
  • Semi consciousness; and
  • Lips, nose, ears and cheeks becoming a bright cherry red colour.

The best prevention for Carbon Monoxide problems is to have appliances installed properly and periodically inspected and maintained.

Asphyxiation

If gas escapes and builds up, at the expense of air, in an open area it can have a very quick effect on a person. Asphyxiation is a lack of oxygen in the blood and the following symptoms may become apparent:

  • Faintness;
  • Weakness;
  • Partial or complete lack of consciousness;
  • A sense of well-being and may act aggressively;
  • Lips and cheeks becoming blue; and
  • All facial features turning blue (the person may be unconscious at this stage).

Resuscitation To treat a person who is affected by carbon monoxide or asphyxiation, first move them to a gas free area. Call an ambulance immediately then, if you are qualified to do so, begin resuscitation being careful not to inhale exhausted air from the patient.