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It’s crossed your mind before: you absent-mindedly leave the gas on and forget about it. Somebody walks in—a child, a spouse, a co-worker—and they light a match. Or they turn the stove on. The scene then cuts to the charred remains of what was once your home or workplace. You scramble for solutions, such as a gas detector that should help you identify anomalous levels of gases in the air. You just want to be safe! You know you can’t rely on just your nose alone, constantly sticking it in the air and sniffing for a whiff of gas.
In fact, some of the greatest threats to home and workplace safety are toxic, asphyxiant, and combustible gases, and most of the time, you are not sure which of them are present in your environment—whether it be your residences or your place of business. There are various options available for detecting gases, and in some cases you could collect samples to be analyzed with a mass spectrometer. However, this takes time and can only be conducted in a properly equipped lab. Unless you have a mass spectrometer in your home, another option is to send out the samples, which is an additional expense not most households can realistically afford. So how can you keep your home and workplace safe from any gas accidents? Here are a few things to keep in mind:
It’s been said that prevention is the best cure. Familiarize yourself with what causes a gas leak: usually what results from poorly fitted, poorly maintained, and defective appliances that use gas such as cookers and boilers. Badly fitted appliances cause gas to escape from the hose that leads into your appliance or around the seal, so always be sure that appliances are installed securely, and preferably by those specifically certified to do so.
A primary tell-tale indication of a gas leak is the smell. However, you can also suffer physical symptoms from undetectable leaks such as those caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. If, for example, you suddenly feel lightheaded or dizzy without any precedent, you should go outside and expose yourself to fresh air immediately. It the symptoms disappear in the fresh air, you could have just escaped a brush with carbon monoxide poisoning. Other signs of gas leaks include: excessive condensation on windows, a musty smell in the air, a pilot light that always blows out, and soot or dark scorched areas around appliances.
Another easy option would be to purchase a portable gas detector, which detects unseen threats such as radiation, toxic gases, and combustible gases. Such devices typically employ lightweight and efficient mini motors for gas detectors that are optimized for portability and compact pump design.
Once you or your gas detector detects gas, leap into action immediately. The first thing to do is to cut off the supply by turning off the gas. The valve regulating gas flow will be connected to a pipe, but it can often be difficult to locate, so it is always useful to familiarize yourself with your appliances upon purchasing them.
Step two is to get fresh air into the room where you have located the gas leak in order to assist in the dispersion of the gas. Open up doors and windows to ensure airflow, and if for some reason you can’t open the window, go straight outside and fill your lungs with fresh air. Avoid turning on electrical switches, which can produce sparks that could cause explosions. Also avoid smoking, starting a match, or burning candles.
It’s one thing to purchase a handy and high-tech gas detector to make sure you’re not running on gas paranoia at all times and to detect specific gas levels. However, it is always helpful to keep a cool head and watch out for additional signs of gas leaks to protect yourself, your home, or workplace.