In the past three months, three homes in Massachusetts succumbed to explosions due to natural gas leaks. In the aftermath, two individuals died and a third was severely injured.
According to a February 21, 2009 report in the Boston Globe, "Nationally, between 1998 and 2008, 323 people died and 1,341 were injured as the result of gas leaks or explosions, according to the US Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Over the same period in Massachusetts, six people died and 12 were injured as a result of leaks and explosions."
While the three recent Massachusetts house explosion incidents do not appear to be linked in the eyes of officials and investigators, the increased frequency has raised concerns among gas customers and industry analysts that thousands of miles of gas pipelines and utility lines may be corroding, increasingly becoming prone to leaks. Such a potential public hazard endangers not only the lives of those in homes but also workers in business and industrial sites.
How Extech Gas Leak Detectors Can Help
As the awareness of the hazards of natural gas leaks increases, professionals in utilities, facilities maintenance, and public safety, as well as individual consumers, are using Extech's compact, handheld gas leak detectors to quickly pinpoint the source of leaks.
For individuals who are responsible for finding gas leaks in structures such as plants, factories, schools, office buildings, and homes, or leaks in equipment that store or use gas, a gas leak detector is one of the most important tools available. These compact, handheld devices quickly identify and pinpoint gas leaks. The Extech EzFlex™ Combustible Gas Detector (model EZ40) features a flexible 16" gooseneck for easy access into hard to reach locations. The EZ40's adjustable sensitivity enables a user to listen to a ticking tone that increases in frequency as the user gets closer to the source of the leak. When gas levels reach 10% (Lower Explosive Limit), a warbling alarm and blinking LED are triggered.
For more general purpose use, troubleshooting gas leaks in smaller, natural and propane gas containers used with items such as soldering torches, lighters, and camping equipment, the pen-sized FG100 model from Extech is particularly versatile. The highly sensitive detector alerts users with audible and visual alarms. And, with a convenient pocket clip, the FG100 detector fits easily in a shirt pocket.
Tips for Responding to a Gas Leak
Public officials and utility representatives emphasize that gas explosion incidents are very, very rare, and have actually declined significantly in the last decade. Still, it is important to prepare a responsive approach to gas leaks in homes as well as business and industrial buildings.
Here are key points to remember if you suspect a gas leak:
- Since natural gas is colorless and odorless, a strong and distinctive scent is added, similar to rotten eggs, to make gas leaks easier to notice.
- If you can smell gas, do not use anything electrical, including light switches and telephones, nor anything that could create a flame or spark.
- Alert others and get out of the building as quickly as possible.
- Away from the building, contact emergency authorities or the gas utility immediately. Many states have strict requirements that utilities must respond to such calls in 60 minutes or less. In workplace plant settings, notify your plant manager immediately.
- Add emergency contact numbers to your cell phone contact list now for easy reference in an emergency.
- For professionals investigating gas leaks, a handheld gas detector that couples high sensitivity with both audio and visual alerts can help pinpoint the source of leaks expediently.