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What Everybody Should Know About Preventing Gas Explosions

March 12, 2014

Tragedies always leave us demanding answers to urgent questions, and the explosion involving a suspected gas leak that occurred today in Harlem is no exception. The most obvious of these questions involve how and why it happened, but perhaps one of the most important questions we can ask right now is, “How can we prevent this from happening in the future?”

First, it’s important to note that under EPA Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), the term hazardous substance does not technically include “natural gas, natural gas liquids, liquefied natural gas, or synthetic gas usable for fuel.” But though it is not regulated as a hazardous substance, natural gas is unquestionably dangerous.

Hazardous substance or not, the incident in Harlem clearly demonstrates the importance of taking every imaginable precaution both before and at the first sign of a potential gas leak. Thankfully, those precautions aren’t overly complicated or expensive. Follow these tips, and be sure to share them with your friends, family, and coworkers as well:

  1. Install natural gas detectors both in your home and in the workplace.
  2. Install gas detectors anywhere gas could possibly accumulate, but also where people will be able to hear the alarm.
  3. Maintain and monitor gas detection equipment on a regular basis. Make sure the batteries are working. It is also wise to have your gas detectors periodically checked by professionals.
  4. To reduce the chance of fire, keep all combustible materials away from water heaters, furnaces or other gas appliances.

In its natural state, natural gas is scentless, colorless and tasteless, but gas companies add a warning scent to it so that people are able to detect a leak by smell. Though the nose is not the most advanced or reliable equipment available, it’s always best to err on the side of caution. If you notice that characteristic smell of rotten eggs, you should take action.

In the event of natural gas detection, please remember:

  • You need to leave the building immediately. Do not waste time gathering your things.
  • If applicable, extinguish any open flames on your way out.
  • Do not turn lights off or on, use a phone to call 911, plug in or unplug any electrical appliances, or anything else that might cause a spark.
  • Do no re-enter the building until a gas company has inspected the premises and deemed it safe.

Tragedies never fail to leave us with questions, but thankfully the answers to those questions can usually teach us something worthwhile.

Providing you with relevant and timely information is just one of the ways Hazardous Waste Experts can help you. We offer fast, compliant, low-cost and sustainable solutions to your hazardous waste disposal challenges, as well as the ability to thoroughly advise you on your specific situation. Call us today at 800-936-2311.

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