2010-01-08 / Community

Gas Leaks And Carbon Monoxide Remain Safety Concerns

With the winter heating season underway, National Grid reminds its customers what to do if they suspect a natural gas leak and how to avoid poten tially deadly carbon monoxide.

Report Natural Gas Leaks

Like any fuel, natural gas is safe when used properly. In the interest of customer and public safety, National Grid crews continually test, repair and improve the underground system that delivers natural gas.

Despite best efforts, however, the possibility does exist for a gas leak in or near your home. National Grid adds a harmless substance called mercaptan that has a strong odor, similar to that of a rotten egg, to natural gas so you can tell if there’s a gas leak inside or near a building.

National Grid advises its customers who suspect a natural gas leak to take the following immediate actions: • If it is a faint odor, call National Grid’s gas emergency number at 1- 800-490-0045 on Long Island and the Rockaway Peninsula or at 718-643- 4050 in Brooklyn, Staten Island and the remainder of the Queens service area. • If the gas odor is strong, or if you hear a hissing sound, get all occupants out of the house immediately and call the gas emergency number from a neighbor’s house. Do not call from your house or use the phone for any reason. Also, do not strike a match or switch lights or appliances on or off. • Never try to put out a fire you suspect may be caused by escaping gas. Leave immediately. • Do not return to your home until National Grid tells you it is safe.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless gas that can be deadly if left undetected. National Grid reminds its customers of the following safety information to help identify and prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is the by-product of the incomplete burning of fuels such as natural gas, butane, propane, wood, coal, heating oil, kerosene and gasoline. Common sources include malfunctioning forced-air furnaces, kero sene space heaters and natural gas ranges.

Other sources include wood stoves, charcoal grills, motor vehicle en gines, and fireplaces. During the heating season when windows and doors are tightly shut, fresh air is sealed out, allowing any carbon mon oxide that may be present to build up over time.

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to those of the flu. Depending upon the amount of carbon monoxide in the air and length of exposure, symptoms may include headaches, weakness, confusion, chest tightness, skin redness, dizziness, nausea, sleepiness, fluttering of the heart or loss of muscle control.

If you suspect carbon monoxide is present in your home, go outside im mediately and call 911.

Carbon Monoxide Prevention Tips: • Arrange for an annual check of your heating system by a licensed professional heating contractor. If you haven’t had your heating system inspected yet, call now. • Check chimneys or flues for debris, bird nests or other blockages, and have them cleaned periodically. • Be sure space heaters and wood stoves are in good condition, have adequate ventilation and are used in strict compliance with manufacturer’s in - struc tions. • NEVER use a gas range for heating, burn coal or charcoal in an enclosed space. • Consider installing a governmentapproved home carbon monoxide de - tector on every floor. • Install back-up electricity generators outside. Open windows do not provide sufficient ventilation to safely operate a generator indoors.

For additional safety information, go to National Grid’s web site at www. nationalgridus.com.

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