By ELLY GRIMM
• Leader & Times
Propane and other natural gases can be a great and efficient source of energy and heat for people in their homes. However, it can also be very hazardous.
A home explosion near Garden City caused by a gas leak over the weekend killing a teen has prompted the Seward County Emergency Management department to issue some warnings and tips about natural gases and what to do if there’s a leak or other problems.
“If your home is fueled by propane or butane you could expect, if a gas leak existed or was accidentally created by some means, that gas could migrate into the lower portions of the home and it would be ignitable,” Greg Standard, director of emergency management explained. “And it could, and in many cases does, completely destroy the house and creates extreme physical danger to anyone in or near the house when that occurs. Over the last several years, there’s been several deaths involved with houses exploding due to gas leaks in Southwest Kansas.”
Standard said there are two chief issues seen and dealt with; a leak of the fuel itself or a leak in the exhaust for the fuel.
“That’s where the carbon monoxide detectors come in if there’s a pipe that comes apart in some manner or if we have a hole in the combustion chamber of an appliance then you can get those gas fumes under the house,” Standard said. “And then those fumes, once they build up, can be deadly as well.”
However, there are preventative measures homeowners can take to prevent such disasters occurring, including, Standard said, purchasing a combustible gas detector, which are available at many retailers for roughly $60. Standard said that $60 investment would save lives in the long run.
For homeowners who use propane, the detector should be installed low in the house in the basement or crawlspace of the home, as those gases tend to gather in lower areas of the home.
For homeowners who use natural gas, the detector should be up near the ceiling of the home (as those gases tend to rise) so it will be sure to catch that gas and notify the homeowner of any issues that need to be taken care of.
“I’ve had one in my own home for a number of years, and I’m not telling people to do something I’m not already doing,” Standard said.
In the event of a leak, Standard says, get everyone out of the house, don’t turn anything on or off (light switches and the like could be causes of ignition), call 911 and contact the gas provider, who will send out someone to find the source of the leak. Afterwards, homeowners can contact the appropriate person to make the needed repairs.
“I just feel like it’s information we need to make sure the public has and make sure folks know about it,” Standard said. “Hopefully, we’ll have a lot of people get it, and it will prevent someone from being injured or worse.”