Propane and natural gas safety in flooding conditions
Posted: Sept. 27, 2018
Responding to a gas leak during average conditions is one thing, but responding during a flood or in the aftermath of a hurricane can bring an entirely different set of hazards.
Consider the following tips and information when responding to possible natural gas and propane leaks during flooding conditions:
Both propane and natural gas smell similar to rotten eggs, but each has a distinctly different odor. All first responders should know these smells.
Natural gas is lighter than air and will dissipate rapidly. If the leak is inside, this will increase the parts per million in the air and make combustion more likely.
Propane is heavier than air, but lighter than water. If there is a propane leak, the propane will pool in the lowest area.
When approaching a propane tank, don’t assume the owner has shut off the tank.
Be aware of hissing sounds, any confined areas of dead or dying vegetation, or water or dirt spraying or bubbling from the ground — all indicators of a leak.
Be aware that small grill or torch bottles can be easily hidden by debris.
Propane tanks can float if broken away from their anchor or pipe systems. You may have emergency calls for floating tanks, and it’s possible the floating tank could even be on fire as seen in this 2016 video from Louisiana.
Consider contacting your local natural gas and propane companies to set up informal training for fire, EMS and even law enforcement personnel.
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