Natural Gas and LPG are both flammable gases, but both are a safe and efficient source of energy when used properly. Natural Gas is predominately methane and is lighter than air, in the event of an unconfined leak to atmosphere the gas is expected to rise and dissipate. Natural Gas and LPG are naturally colourless and odourless however both have an odourant added called ethyl mercaptan to assist in detecting leaks. In the event of a leak of either gas, a rotten egg / cabbage smell can be detected.
LPG is a combination of propane and butane. It is heavier than air and in the event of an unconfined leak, the gas can be expected to stay low to the ground with the potential to travel and accumulate in below ground cavities such as pits and drains. The gas will eventually vaporise and dissipate but this will occur at a slower rate than with Natural Gas.
Gas leaks can occur for a number of reasons and shouldn't be ignored as any gas leaks can potentially lead to carbon monoxide poisoning and result in deadly consequence as well as fires and explosions. Once you’ve decided there could be a gas leak, you should act fast. The first thing you need to do is to turn off the gas at the meter. You’ll find the meter generally on the side of the house or under a domed plastic cover in your front garden. Turn the gas handle which is usually yellow 90 degrees, so that it’s at right angles to the pipe.
If your home uses LPG gas instead of piped natural gas, go outside and find the LPG cylinders. Close the valve by turning it clockwise.
Detecting a gas leak – What are the symptoms?
The most obvious sign of a leak is the smell of gas. You could also be feeling ill as a result of a gas leak with symptoms which include:
- Feeling lightheaded
If you’re suffering from these symptoms and suspect a leak, you should go outside immediately. If you feel better in fresh air, you could be suffering from the effects of a gas leak.
These are also some of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
If you smell gas inside the house:
- Don’t use a flame to try and find it
- Go outside immediately, opening doors and windows and extinguishing any open flames as you go
- Don't use a fan to assist ventilation
- Don't plug in or unplug any electrical appliances or switch them on or off
- Don't use a telephone, flashlight or switch any lights on or off inside the home, as these could cause a spark and start a fire
- Don't smoke or light matches in or near the property
- Use a mobile phone outside or ask a neighbor if you can use their phone to call a licensed gas fitter or emergency services
- Don't re-enter your home until it has been inspected by a licensed gas fitter and they have confirmed it’s safe.
If the smell is coming from the gas meter, or from the inlet service pipe leading to your meter from the street, phone the Jemena Emergency Response Service on 131 909 to report the leak.