When natural gas equipment is properly installed and operated, natural gas is safe and convenient. However, knowing what to do in an emergency can save lives. Whether you are at home or outside, there are some important steps to take if you suspect a gas leak.

If you smell gas and suspect a gas leak, leave the premises immediately and call the gas emergency number 114 or the number of the State Fire and Rescue Service – 112

What may indicate a gas leak?

The most obvious sign of a leak is the smell of gas. As natural gas is odourless, tasteless, and colourless, a specific aroma is added for the timely detection of a leak – odorant (mercaptan), which gives the gas a smell similar to sulphur (rotten eggs). The odorant is added at the gas control stations just before gas is being fed into the natural gas distribution system. In transmission pipeline systems with a pressure of more than 1.6 MPa (16 Bar), natural gas is without odour.

Deterioration of a person’s well-being may also be an indication of a gas leakage. At low concentrations, natural gas can cause dizziness, headaches, nausea, and loss of coordination. If any of these symptoms are noticed and a natural gas leak is suspected, you should leave the premises immediately. In high concentrations indoors, if the specific odour of the gas is not detected in due time, the amount of oxygen inhaled will be reduced and the asphyxiating effects of natural gas are possible. Symptoms: movement disorders, unconsciousness, vomiting. The affected person may not feel the warning symptoms of possible suffocation and may fall into a deep sleep (unconsciousness), which could be fatal.

In the event of a gas leak, pets also experience a change in their well-being. Pet owners should pay attention to the following symptoms: difficulty of breathing, behavioural changes, disorientation, loss of appetite, red or watery eyes, vomiting.

Small gas leaks may be odourless. In addition to the changes in one’s well-being, if there is a leak in the house, you may notice several changes that need your attention:

  • A whistling sound near a gas pipeline. Sometimes a gas leak makes a low, hissing sound. This means that the gas escapes quite quickly and any noise coming from the gas system is usually not a good sign.
  • A white cloud or cloud of dust near a gas pipeline. Sometimes gas leaks outdoors can cause a fine mist. It is caused by the gas escaping from the underground supply line. Condensate collects and forms a low, unnatural haze around the house.
  • Damaged gas pipe.
  • Dead houseplants. Gas leakage is harmful to all living creatures. Plants produce and consume oxygen, so if there is not enough oxygen, they will slowly begin to die. If the plants suddenly wither simultaneously (provided they are watered as needed) in the house, this may indicate a gas leak. The consumption of natural gas has grown rapidly. Pay attention to the cause, as it is possible that the gas from the gas pipes and appliances might be entering the house or its territory.

What to do if a natural gas leak is detected?

If there is a gas leak, it is important to act quickly but prudently:

  • Call for help. In the event of a natural gas leak or if you smell it, call the Gas Emergency Service (114) or the State Fire and Rescue Service (112) immediately.
  • Prevent fire. Potential sources of ignition must be avoided to prevent sparks and open flames. The lighting and other electrical equipment should not be turned on and off, as it can cause sparks and further ignition.
  • Ventilate the premises. Ensure adequate ventilation of enclosed spaces. Open windows and doors before leaving the room.
  • Leave the premises. Take care of your health and safety, and then your peers. Warn other residents of the building about a gas leak or possible leak, help to get out of the building and wait for the Gas Emergency Service at a sufficient distance from the leakage point.
  • Medical assistance. In the event of a gas leak, both humans and animals require medical attention. In case of severe symptoms, call the emergency medical service – 112.
  • Prevent further spread. If possible and if it does not endanger your own health, stop the leak by interrupting the natural gas supply and closing the shut-off devices.
  • It is important to remain calm and to take care of your safety and health first, and only then consider how to prevent or reduce gas leaks.

What to do after the gas leak is eliminated?

Gas leaks are usually confirmed by a certified gas inspector using a device called a regulated electronic gas analyser. The inspector will check the equipment and external gas lines for any damages and leaks.

Once a leak has been found and rectified, it is important to wait until it is announced that you can return home safely. It is important to ventilate the house before going back inside.

Be sure to consult a doctor after a gas leak, especially if long-term effects are observed such as depression, other mood or breathing problems.

How to avoid gas leaks

  • Natural gas appliances must always be installed by a certified gas installation and maintenance specialist.
  • Installing a gas detector alarm can help protect the occupants of the home by warning of leaks.
  • A carbon monoxide (CO) detector can also be fitted. Carbon monoxide is colourless, odourless and can be lethal.
  • Gas-fired boilers and water heaters must be serviced regularly, at least once a year. Unattended equipment can increase energy consumption and accidents. Maintenance is recommended to be done by a trusted and licensed service provider.
  • If you are scheduled to be out of the house for several days, it is recommended to close the closing device of the gas pipeline, which is in front of the gas meter.
  • Do not use the stove to heat the room, as it may cause suffocation, as the amount of oxygen in the room is reduced during combustion.
  • Do not allow children to play with the gas stove switches and always make sure that they are properly closed after cooking.