Natural gas is explosive at only five to fifteen percent concentration. This typically poses a problem in confined spaces. In the US only about 17 people per year lose their lives to gas explosions. Well, why is it so dangerous? The truth is this: natural gas does not have to explode for it to hurt you.
Simply being around a gas leak can harm you.
Natural gas is considered a ‘simple asphyxiant‘ which means it displaces oxygen in the air. When your brain does not get oxygen it is known as hypoxia and, at best, can include symptoms such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Decreased vision
- Loss of consciousness
At worst, you can suffocate without even knowing what is happening. Many who die from gas leaks will do so in their sleep and never know it. A user on the social media site Reddit thought a stalker was leaving notes in his apartment. It turns out he was disoriented due to a gas leak. Yeah, it is pretty scary to think about.
I get it, gas leaks are bad. But what can I do?
According to the American Gas Association more than 170 million Americans rely on natural gas. Leaks are inevitable. If you suspect you have a gas leak in your home:
- Ventilate – open doors and windows
- Make sure your stove or any gas appliances are turned off
- Do not turn on any lights if you smell gas, this may result in a spark
- Call your local fire department and then the gas company
Take action before a leak happens!
There are numerous causes of gas leaks – poorly fitted pipes, faulty appliances, bad maintenance – and the average homeowner does not have the wherewithal or knowledge to do preventative maintenance end-to-end.