A gas leak is a risky situation and still too common. In France, there are approximately two gas-related accidents each week. In the event of a gas leak, your reaction can be decisive in avoiding a tragedy: fire, explosion or asphyxiation. If you detect a gas leak in your home, here are the actions to take for your safety and that of other residents.
Natural gas: beware, danger!
Under pressure, natural gas is explosive. A gas leak can have several serious consequences: explosion, fire, projection of debris, etc. For people, there is a risk of burns and poisoning.
Detect the characteristic smell of gas
Mains gas is odorless. To make it detectable, a perfume is added to it which gives it its characteristic sulfur smell. This odor becomes detectable as soon as the air contains at least 1%. As soon as you smell gas, don’t waste time. From 5% concentration of gas in the air, the explosion is triggered at the slightest spark. From 25% concentration, there is a danger of intoxication, with a risk of loss of consciousness and asphyxiation.
Put out the cigarettes
Any flame can trigger the explosion of pressurized gas. The slightest match or lighter flame, the slightest lit cigarette can provide the fatal spark. Extinguish all cigarettes, including electronic cigarettes, and any candles or other flames.
Do not turn on any electrical switch
A simple switch can produce a spark and trigger the gas explosion. Even if it’s dark, don’t try to turn on the light. Do not use your cell phone. Don’t call the elevator. Do not ring your neighbor’s doorbell and do not use the intercom. Do not use any electrical device or computer. The consequences are unpredictable because you do not know what the gas concentration rate is in the place where you are.
Ventilate and ventilate
Open all the windows and doors you can. The gas has concentrated in an enclosed area and this represents a considerable danger. Ventilate all rooms in the house, not just the place where the leak seems to be coming from. The more the house is ventilated, the more you will reduce the risk of explosion, the gas escaping little by little through the openings.
Shut off the gas supply
Do not necessarily seek to identify the origin of the gas leak. The easiest way is to cut off the general gas supply, if it is easily accessible to you. The objective is to stop the leak to avoid a dangerous concentration. Wait until the heating engineer has come to repair the cause of the leak, or until the emergency services have intervened, before putting the gas back into circulation.
Evacuate and evacuate the premises
The smell of gas indicates an imminent and unforeseeable danger of explosion or poisoning. The emergency is to evacuate everyone present, including animals. If you are in collective housing, warn the neighbors – but without ringing the doorbell!
Do not stay in the premises while waiting for external speakers. Immediately after airing the premises widely and turning off the gas, exit quickly and calmly. Make sure no one is left inside. If you stay inside, you risk poisoning which could lead to unconsciousness or even asphyxiation. To call for help, make sure you are a safe distance from your home before using a phone.
Call firefighters and gas professionals
- Start by calling 112, the unique emergency number, which will put you in touch with the services in your department. The firefighters will take the necessary measures to secure the surroundings and evacuate the immediate vicinity if necessary. Note that a mobile phone can always call 112, even when locked or without a SIM card.
- Call the emergency service of your vendor of gas, available 24 hours a day. He will arrive as soon as possible to identify the origin of the leak and repair it.
Wait outside for help
Get to safety while waiting for outside responders. Explain the situation to them when they arrive on the scene, specifying the various actions taken. Give them any useful information for their intervention. They will allow you to return to your accommodation once the premises are secure. Once the emergency intervention is over, have your gas installation repaired and checked by a professional.
Have you witnessed a gas leak somewhere other than your home?
Whether at your place of professional activity or elsewhere, you may notice a gas leak. The first thing to do is to evacuate the premises. If a person is a victim of gas poisoning, with loss of consciousness, try to help him but without putting yourself in danger. You can clear it to a ventilated area before leaving the premises and call the emergency services.
Again, do not use any electrical device. No elevator, no cell phone, no light switch…
As soon as you are safe, deny access to the area. Notify the emergency services by dialing 112 or 18.
Opt for risk prevention
To avoid problems, remember to have your gas installation serviced regularly. Good ventilation is necessary in the rooms where the boilers, water heaters, gas stoves are located, etc. In short, any gas-powered heating or hot water production installation. The Alur law provides for an obligation to diagnose installations in rental accommodation: inspection of installations, pipes and accessories.