Gas is a very effective source of energy. It is commonly used in furnaces and water heaters as well as many appliances such as stoves. However, a gas leak can have dire consequences. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, an average of 170 people die of carbon monoxide poisoning in America each year. Protect yourself and your family by recognising the symptoms of a gas leak in your stove.
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A "rotten egg" odour is often the first sign of a gas leak. Natural gas and propane are odourless when they are in their natural state. The chemical "mercaptan" is the cause for the unpleasant odour. It is added to provide an alert to a leak. Do not rely on the smell alone as an indicator. A cold or an allergy may hinder your ability to smell. The odour may not wake you if the leak happens while you are sleeping. In rare cases, the odour may fade in propane gas, which may happen during an underground leak where the odour is absorbed into the ground. If the smell of gas lingers after lighting a burner, there may be a leak. A hissing sound emanating from your stove is another indication of a gas leak.
Exposure to a gas leak can be dangerous. A gas leak creates poisonous carbon monoxide fumes. Exposure may cause dizziness, headaches and vomiting. Fatigue is a common symptom. The leak is extremely dangerous as the victim may go to sleep and continue to inhale the poison. Prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide can cause impaired judgment, loss of memory and a loss of coordination. These symptoms could impair a victim's ability to save himself. If a victim is not removed from the toxic environment, he will ultimately die.
What to Do
Check the to stove to ensure all of the burners and the oven is turned off. If they are in the off position, prepare to evacuate the home. Do not flip any light switches or turn on or off any other appliances, which could create a spark that could ignite or cause a gas explosion. Open windows as you leave, and call your gas company immediately after leaving the building. Do not use the telephone inside the house; use a cell phone or go to a neighbour's house. Even if you are unsure, do not hesitate to call for assistance.
All gas appliances should be installed by a qualified professional to ensure secure connections and proper ventilation. Carbon monoxide alarms are readily available. These devices are devised to detect traces of carbon monoxide in the home. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends installation of alarms in the hallway outside of each bedroom in the house. Furnaces and appliances should be inspected annually to ensure they are working properly, which is especially true of older equipment. Educate the entire family about the symptoms of a gas leak and have an evacuation plan in place.
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