What to Do If You Smell Gas

a woman opening an oven door

Smelling gas in your home can be alarming. However, it’s important not to panic and to take the correct safety steps to avoid a dangerous situation.

Signs of a Gas Leak in Your Home

First, learn to recognize the signs of something amiss with the gas source in your home.

The Smell of Gas

Naturally, gas is odorless. Power source providers typically add sulfur or mercaptan to the substance in order to give it a rotten egg smell so that it’s apparent if it’s present in your home.

Gas may, alternatively, have the smell of propane. If you notice a slight scent of propane, it may not be cause for alarm. Propane odors sometimes tend to linger when you light a gas stove, light the pilot in a gas fireplace, or if a hot water heater or other appliance experiences an issue.

The Sight of Gas

While you can’t see a gas leak, there are sights to look out for that indicate one. Discolored soil or dead vegetation near a gas pipeline is a sign of a leak.

The Sound of Gas

Gas leaks may omit a high pitched hissing or whistling noise.

Symptoms Gas Leaks Cause

Exposure to gas in your home can also cause certain symptoms. These include dizziness, fatigue, nausea, headaches, and irregular breathing. If you’re experiencing some or all of these symptoms and they subside when you leave your house, it could be symptomatic of a gas leak.

What to Do If You Smell Gas

If you smell gas in your home or suspect a leak for other reasons, there are certain measures you should take as a precaution.

Reduce the Use of Electricity

Don’t operate any electrical switches and turn off appliances in the event that you smell gas. Also don’t light a flame of any sort inside.

a modern kitchen with a folding open window

Ventilate the Space

In order to allow the space to ventilate and gas to disperse as quickly as possible, open windows and doors to increase airflow.

Avoid Using Your Cell Phone

Don’t use electronics such as your cell phone within your home if you suspect a gas leak, as it could be dangerous to do so.

Switch Off the Gas Line

Locate your gas meter and switch it off. If you don’t know where it is, call your supplier and ask them to help you locate it. Turning off the line usually involves turning the lever so it’s at a 90 degree angle in relation to the pipe, closing the valve.

a gas line with a valve

Alert Neighbors

If you live in a shared building - like in an apartment or condo - alert neighbors of the issue so that everyone can take the appropriate actions and leave the area to seek safety.

Evacuate Your Home

Leave your home if you suspect a gas leak. Staying in your home in the presence of gas could be hazardous to your health, so it’s important to get away from the area.

Call 911

Report the issue to the professionals so that they can investigate the problem and handle it accordingly.

Stay Away Until Told Differently

Until the emergency services crew or your gas provider give you the all clear, stay away from the area where gas was detected.

Have Your System Checked

After the dust has settled and any chance of immediate danger has been eradicated, schedule a follow up appointment with your gas provider to have the entirety of your system checked for issues. This can help prevent future leaks and will keep your home safe. This should be done before you use your appliances again to avoid the chance of another leak.

Best Practices Around Gas Appliances

Whether or not you have a gas leak or issue, gas appliances should be treated with care in order to keep your home and family safe.

Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors

To help avoid potentially fatal disasters, install carbon monoxide detectors near combustion appliances.

a carbon monoxide detector

Have Fire Extinguishers

Have fire extinguishers in your kitchen and near your furnace. Replace your extinguisher once a year to ensure that they’re adequately pressurized.

Place Flammable Objects Strategically

Don’t leave items such as paper, household wood products, or anything else highly flammable near gas or propane run appliances to avoid a fire.

Have Emergency Information Readily Available

Post the emergency number of your utility company somewhere easily accessible on your house and save it to your contacts in your mobile phone.

Keeping your home safe in relation to gas appliances should be your top priority, and knowing the steps to take in the case of a suspected gas leak will help you act swiftly if the need arises.