Colder Weather Means More Natural Gas Usage: Safety Urged

Northwest Iowa — With the cold temperatures forecast for the next few days most of us will be kept warm by our furnaces. And most of those furnaces are fired by natural gas.

We talked to MidAmerican Energy spokesperson Geoff Greenwood about natural gas. He says it’s a very safe product and most people never have a problem with it. But it is a powerful fuel that deserves respect and people need to play it safe.

(as said:) “Always a good idea to be aware of using your senses to detect a problem and really with natural gas, there’s the smell and the sight and the sound. All of those will give you an indication that there may be a problem. Keep in mind that natural gas is actually odorless. So we add a chemical to the product and it’s called mercaptan. And that is that rotten egg smell that smells terrible and it smells terrible for a reason and that’s because if you smell that then, you know there’s an issue.”

He tells us what to do if you do smell natural gas.

(as said:) “Leave that area. Get out of your house if it’s in your house and then call for help. Call 911 to have the fire department come and take a look and give us a call as well will come right out and check it out, but don’t do that from inside and also don’t turn on or off any switches — light switches — or do anything that may initiate a spark. So just clear the area. “

Greenwood says outside, you might be able to detect a gas leak with your other senses, in addition to smell.

(as said:) “It can also include sight if you see some kind of bubbling up in the ground something that looks really unusual or even like a freezing appearance that there’s a small area that looks like it’s got frost building up. Then that could be an indication that there is an underground leak and then of course the sound — if you hear a hissing sound coming from a pipe or coming from somewhere in the ground, you know that there is a problem and you need to give us a call.”

He tells us the other risk when it comes to burning any fuel, especially indoors is the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

(as said:) “It’s a really good idea to purchase a CO detector. And that is something that can save lives especially if you’re inside a house and something’s not burning correctly, you know, maybe you didn’t get your furnace checked out and something’s broken and it’s not working properly. Then natural gas — if it’s not burned correctly can lead to CO and CO poisoning and that can be dangerous if not deadly. So it’s really important to make sure that you get a handle on whether you’ve got CO in your house.”

Greenwood also reminds us to keep our gas meters clear of vegetation, snow, and ice, and to clear a path to the meter in the winter. He says sometimes workers may need to get to your meter in a hurry.



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