Think you left the gas on? Here’s what to do.
In the midst of dinner-time chaos, it’s easy to leave a burner running or fail to turn it off entirely. However, free-flowing gas is highly flammable and not something to linger on. If you left the gas on, take a quick beat to get a level head—like, three seconds—then follow the basic safety measures outlined below.
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 may see a flame that 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 — (a rotten egg-type odor)— 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.
If your stove has electronic/spark ignition, leave the house and call 911, as many ranges will spark when you turn the knob to the "OFF" position, which could potentially cause an explosion. Turn off the gas supply to the house at the meter if it is located outside the house. Your local fire department knows how to identify and isolate gas meters.
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. 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 the home, call 911 or your local gas company’s emergency number. Do not try to turn the exterior gas valve off yourself. The first responders will inspect your home and, most likely, turn off the gas before giving 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.
If You Smell Gas but Your Stove Is Off, Leave and Call 911
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.
Take Precautions to Avoid Potential Leaks
As a general safety measure, consider purchasing and installing an automatic shut-off valve for your stove if it doesn’t already include one.
Jeff Botelho, licensed plumber and Expert Review Board member, says, "Gas leak and carbon monoxide detectors are a relatively inexpensive way to protect your family and your home in the event of a gas leak or a heating equipment and appliance malfunction." Ideally, place these devices near each of your gas appliances, such as your stove, water heater, dryer, and furnace.
Make sure your fire extinguisher is pressurized and operable annually. And, remember never to place anything flammable (like paints or newspaper) near a gas appliance.