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Recognize Natural Gas Hazards and Stay Safe

Posted on Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Natural gas is an efficient and low-cost option for heating and cooling systems, stoves, water heaters and clothes dryers making it a popular choice for appliances in homes.

Although gas safety hazards are rare, they can be potentially dangerous or even deadly which is why it is important to know how to recognize gas leaks and what to do in hazardous situations.

How to Know if There is a Leak

Smell will usually be the first indicator of a gas leak. Utility companies like CFU odorize natural gas to smell like sulfur or rotten eggs so that a gas leak may be easily detectable. If you are outside, you may also hear a hissing sound or see blowing soil, bubbling water or dead plants near a gas appliance, meter or buried distribution main.

What to Do if You Suspect a Leak

If you’re inside and believe you may smell natural gas, it is very important that you leave the building immediately and do not turn any appliances or lights on or off, use a flashlight, start a car or use your cell phone. The slightest spark or nearby heat or flames could cause the gas to be ignited. If you are outside, move away from the area and stay upwind of the odor. Only once you are in a safe location, call CFU at 319-268-5340 any time of the day or night. You may also call 911.

Beware of Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, deadly gas and can be produced by gas appliances that are not properly working. Mild exposure can cause flu-like symptoms, and continued exposure leads to rapid heart rate, a severe headache, confusion and drowsiness or even death.

Because carbon monoxide has no color, odor, or taste, it is important to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home and have all appliances serviced by a qualified technician annually.
If you experience symptoms or if a carbon monoxide detector goes off, move immediately to fresh air and call 911 and CFU at 319-268-5340.

Pipeline Awareness and Safety

Gas Pipeline MarkerGas travels to our community through underground transmission pipelines. Markers like the one shown here are often found where these high capacity transmission pipelines meet a street or railroad track. The markers indicate the approximate location of the pipeline, not how deep the pipeline is buried.

The gas distribution mains inside the city are not typically identified by pipeline markers except near railroad crossings. The most frequent cause of gas leaks is accidental damage from excavation by citizens or construction workers.

To help prevent this type of damage, Iowa law requires everyone to contact Iowa One-Call at least 48 hours before digging on any property for any reason.

You can contact Iowa One-Call toll-free at the One-Call number 811 or online at IowaOneCall.com. One-Call will arrange to have the location of all underground services marked on the surface before excavation takes place at no cost to the consumer.