Tips for Handling a Gas Leak

The explosion on the Murray State University campus is leading firefighters and gas company officials to remind people on how to stay safe if a leak happens at their home or business.

"You need to kind of rely on your senses," says Kay Coomes of Atmos Energy.

The first step: leave the source of the leak. A chemical called mercaptan is added, giving natural gas an odor. Firefighters say you should avoid using any electronic or electric devices, including cell phones, until you're at a safe distance.

"If there is a buildup of gas, you don't want any type of ignition source. Don't use your phones, don't use your land lines," says Coomes.

"Everything electronic has the ability to create a spark. It can set off an explosion," adds Chief Dwane Smeathers of Daviess Co. Fire Dept. "That's why you don't want to throw on a light switch. The light switch can create a spark inside as you are flipping the switch."

Firefighters and gas company crews use detectors to help spot the source of the leak. People should not shut a meter off by themselves if they suspect a gas leak. Once its sealed, keep doors and windows open to get rid of the remaining odor.

"They can make sure windows and doors are open for a little while to air out things," says Chief Smeathers. "But as long as they're not detecting the smell, they should be in the clear."

Coomes say you should call 8-1-1 before starting any digging project to prevent gas line ruptures.

"We don't want anybody hitting our gas lines, gashing our gas lines, and then not letting us know. It's very, very important," she says.

(This story was originally published on June 29th, 2017)


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