Preventing Natural Gas Ignition
The single greatest risk from natural gas leaks is ignition. There are some simple procedures that can minimize the chances of an ignition. Some of these may seem far-fetched or overly cautious, but they aren’t. Each of these mistakes has caused ignitions at one time or another.
- Even the smallest flame or spark can cause a natural gas ignition. Avoid turning electrical equipment or devices on or off in the vicinity of a leak. Sparks can come from some unexpected sources, so be vigilant. As gas dissipates and concentrations fall, they may pass through the explosive range. If ignition sources have not been eliminated before ventilation, the gas could ignite.
- If possible, leave radios, pagers, cell phones, etc. in your vehicle. Otherwise, turn them off before approaching the area.
- Avoid using doorbells, light switches, matches, and lighters, and prevent their use by others. Be alert for evacuees and bystanders who may try to turn off lights or make phone calls. When evacuating the area, remember to knock on doors. Don’t ring doorbells.
- Take steps to eliminate sources of static electricity. Rubbing your hands together to keep warm or even shuffling your feet can create enough of a spark to ignite natural gas.
- If you must use a flashlight, turn it on before approaching the area.