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What Should I Do if I Left the Gas On?

Dina Cheney
Written by Dina Cheney
Updated October 27, 2021
A modern kitchen with a gas range
Photo: Cavan Images / Getty Images

Left the gas on? Here's what to do

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You left home and realized, mid-grocery store run, that you forgot to turn off the gas. Or, you were in a hurry to clean up after lunch and didn’t get a burner shut off all the way. While it’s totally understandable, either situation can be extremely dangerous unless you follow a few basic safety measures.

1. If You Don’t Smell Gas, Relax, and Turn Off the Stove

If you left the stove on and don’t smell gas, you’ll see a flame. That fire has been burning the gas, preventing it from leaching into your home. In that case, turn off the stove. While you’re heaving a sigh of relief, count yourself lucky that nothing bad happened.

2. If You Smell Gas, Turn Off the Stove and Leave Immediately

If you smell gas, you could be in danger. Because natural gas and propane are odorless, gas companies add an odorant that smells like rotten eggs as a safety measure. If you detect that scent, it’s a clear sign that gas is escaping into the air. You should turn off the stove, and you, your family, and any pets should leave immediately. Although you might think you should open the windows to air out your house, resist the urge to do so. Opening windows would delay your exit, plus could cause toxic fumes to spread beyond your home.

3. Avoid Fire and Electricity

If there’s enough natural gas in the air, the presence of a flame could cause a fire. So, don’t turn on or off any electrical or gas items, such as lights, appliances, or gas fireplaces, or use your cell phone. Avoid sparking a flame by lighting a candle. And, if your car is in an attached garage, do not drive, since turning on the electrical ignition could potentially ignite the gas and start a fire.

4. Call for Help

Once you’re away from home, call 911 or your local gas company’s emergency number. They’ll inspect your home and, most likely, turn off the gas. Do not try to turn the exterior gas valve off yourself. Be sure to stay outside until first responders give you the go-ahead that it’s safe to return. If anyone experiences nausea, headaches, dizziness, or flu-like symptoms, tell the first responders, as these are signs of potential carbon monoxide poisoning.

5. Smell Gas, But Nothing’s On?

Let’s say you smell that rotten egg odor, so you assume you left the gas on. But when you check your stove, you notice that all of the burners are off. In that case, you might have a gas leak. If so, leave immediately, and call 911 or your local gas company. They’ll likely turn off the gas. Later, you might need a local licensed plumber to fix any leaking pipes.

6. Take Precautions

As a general safety measure, consider purchasing and installing an automatic shut-off valve for your stove if it doesn’t already include one. Also, think about adding gas leak detectors, in addition to smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Ideally, place these devices near each of your gas appliances, such as your stove, water heater, dryer, and furnace. Once a year, make sure your fire extinguisher is pressurized and operable. And, remember never to place anything flammable (like paints or newspaper) near a gas appliance.

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