To say that a leaking pipeline is no good may be the understatement of all time. We hear about the major pipeline leaks and spills, but what about leaks that happen closer to home? Like inside your house or business. Would you know what to look for and what to do when a pipe leak is suspected?
It’s simple, really, and starts with your senses. Use your nose, eyes, and ears to stop a potentially unstable situation before it becomes worse.
What do you smell?
Mercaptan is often added to natural gas since gas is naturally odorless. So if you smell rotten eggs, it’s a sure sign of a leak! Other smells to be aware of are petroleum scents or general pungent odors.
What do you see?
Vegetation that is dying or dead around a pipeline is a potential indicator of a leak. More signs to look for near a pipeline include:
- Liquid on the ground
- Ground fire
- White cloud
- Floating dirt or debris
A leak often lets off a “hissing, gurgling or roaring sound”
So now what?
If you suspect that there is a leak, don’t panic, but get out of the house or building quickly.
- On your way out, don’t touch or use anything electrical (e.g., garage door openers, light switches).
- Don’t use your cell phone until you are a safe distance away from the leak.
- Call 911.
- Call the local gas company.
What to do if the Leak is Outside
If you think that the leak is coming from a pipeline or gas meter outside of your house or business, get out of the area immediately!
- From a safe place, call 911.
- Call the operator of the pipeline. You can find that information on the Pipeline marker. Have that information written down somewhere that’s easily accessible so you don’t have to go near the pipeline during an emergency.
- Don’t touch anything coming from the pipeline (e.g., gases or liquids).
- Don’t do anything near the pipeline that could create a spark; this includes talking on your cell phone, smoking, or starting your car.
To avoid leaks and damage, always remember to call 811 before starting any digging projects to find out the location of all underground utilities. This simple step can save you time, energy, and money if something were to go wrong. Everyone can help promote and ensure pipeline safety by remembering these steps for detecting and preventing damage.