Safety tips for preventing, detecting natural gas leaks

By  | 

ABERDEEN, S.D. The City of Aberdeen says a gas explosion is the cause of a house fire in Aberdeen. Luckily, no one was living inside at the time of Tuesday morning's fire, but knowing what a natural gas leak smells like can make the difference between life and death.

Natural gas may be odorless, but utility companies add mercaptan so people can tell when there's a gas leak.

"If you smell the smell of rotten eggs, that's the actual scent that we add to our natural gas product so that you [are] aware that it's a bad smell and you need to get out or something needs to be done," NorthWestern Energy Community Relations Manager Tom Glanzer said.

It takes very little of the mercaptan to smell it, so even a person with a bad sense of smell can detect it. If you notice that smell in your house, don't turn on any lights and get outside immediately. Make sure you bring your cell phone with you to make the necessary calls.

"Call a technician. Call the fire department to come and check it. We'll come with our equipment and check it out to make sure there's not any gas leaks and gas companies will also do the same thing," Aberdeen Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief Joel Weig said.

NorthWestern Energy was on-scene following the North 2nd Street house fire.

"Our crews did what's called barholing. They actually put a rod into the ground, they pound a rod into the ground to get beneath the frost line and then they actually take the same reader that they would use inside a house and check to see if there's any natural gas migrating in the ground," Glanzer said.

The crews found no natural gas outside the home or surrounding neighbors, so everyone is safe.

Having your furnace or water heater checked once a year helps with its reliability.

"It's a lot easier to schedule something when it works for you to have it serviced and check all the things that are normal problems. It always breaks when it's really inconvenient" Climate Control Project Manager Jed Bertsch said. "So it helps with the life of the furnace."

Making sure you have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on every floor of your house is important. Testing them a few times a year are ways to keep you and your family safe.

The State Fire Marshal was on scene at the house fire all day Wednesday to help out with the investigation as to what officially caused the explosion and fire.