Natural gas accounts for nearly one-fourth of all energy consumption in the U.S., and more than 600,000 Floridians use it in their homes, according to the American Gas Association. Generally speaking, natural gas is a safe, clean, and cost-efficient way to heat your home and power your appliances.
But as we’ve seen all too often lately, a small gas leak can quickly escalate into a dangerous explosion, sometimes with deadly consequences.
How do you know if your home has a gas leak? Be on the lookout for the following warning signs:
“Rotten Egg” Smell: In its native state, natural gas is odorless. To help protect homeowners, utility companies add mercaptan – a harmless chemical that smells like rotten eggs – to natural gas. So if you get a whiff of that “rotten egg” smell, it’s possible that a gas leak is present.
Hissing or Blowing Sound: Another common warning sign of a gas leak is an unusual hissing or blowing sound near a gas line or gas appliances like stoves and washing machines.
Spiraling or Swirling Dirt: If you see dirt blowing around in your yard when there’s little or no wind, this may indicate the presence of a gas leak in an underground utility line.
Bubbling Water: Standing water does not bubble on its own – so bubbles in standing water may signal a broken gas pipeline.
Dead or Discolored Vegetation: Nature or natural gas? Over time, most plants and vegetation will brown or change color naturally. However, a clump of dead or discolored vegetation surrounded by green and healthy vegetation may suggest the presence of a natural gas leak.
If You Suspect a Gas Leak…
If you suspect a gas leak in your home, it’s important to act quickly – while being sure to keep personal safety in mind.
- Do evacuate your house immediately. Open doors and windows for ventilation and extinguish any open flames, if possible.
- Do turn off any equipment being used in or near the suspected leak, and move upwind from the source of the leak.
- From a safe location, do call 911 or your local emergency response number and utility company.
- Do warn others to stay away when possible.
- Don’t light a match, start a car engine, use a telephone, operate an electrical switch, or do anything that may create static or spark.
- Don’t re-enter your home until a public utility official has inspected the premises, made all necessary repairs, and determined it to be safe.
- Don’t touch, breathe in, or make contact with any leaking liquids or gas.
- Don’t attempt to operate valves.
Preventing Gas Leaks
Not all natural gas leaks are preventable, but there are steps you can take to significantly reduce the likelihood of a gas leak incident in or near your home:
- Make sure gas appliances are properly installed and maintained. Consider having gas appliances inspected by a qualified technician at least once a year.
- Keep all combustible materials away from gas appliances.
- Install a gas detector in your home. You can purchase one at your local home improvement store for as little as $25.
- Because many natural gas leaks are the result of damaged underground utility lines, before you dig – whether you’re planting shrubs, replacing a mailbox post, or installing a fence – call 811. That’s the federally designated number to call before digging to protect yourself and others from unintentionally hitting underground utility lines.
We’re here when you need us. If you’re a policyholder and your home is impacted by the consequences of a gas leak, Call People’s Trust First at 1-877-333-1230. Our affiliated general contracting company, the Rapid Response Team, is ready to deploy 24/7 to mitigate damage to prevent further loss and make emergency repairs. They will then work to coordinate the process of repairing the damage and restoring your home to pre-loss condition.
*24/7 Emergency Response from the Rapid Response Team is available only for People’s Trust policyholders and their covered losses. Rapid Response Team (FL-CGC#024735), an entity affiliated with People’s Trust Insurance Company, may coordinate or provide all repair services in conjunction with our Better Way approach. Participation in the Better Way approach requires the selection of the Preferred Contractor endorsement form E023. Our Better Way approach is subject to policy and product terms, exclusions, and limitations. Availability and coverage levels of some plan features are subject to state laws and underwriting requirements. Coverages, discounts, and features subject to individual eligibility and to availability. Coverage exclusions and limitations may apply. For more information on this insurance and related programs, contact People’s Trust Insurance.