How Safe Is Natural Gas?

Natural gas is a very safe energy source! Knowing good safety guidelines can help you use it wisely in your home and community.

Using Natural Gas Safely at Home

Natural gas is a very clean, safe energy source when properly used.
  • There are two main natural gas appliances in our homes, the furnace and the water heater.
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  • It is important to have good air circulation around both, keeping those areas clutter-free.
  • Never store flammable materials near appliances whose main job is to heat!
  • Good air circulation and clean filters (in furnaces and clothes dryers) also help appliances run efficiently.
  • Set your water heater at 120 F (49 C), no higher, for safety and efficiency.

How to Recognize a Natural Gas Leak

Natural gas leaks are rare, but it is important to know and be able to recognize the signs of a natural gas leak. We use our eyes, ears and nose to detect a leak.


To help you SMELL a leak, natural gas companies add a chemical (mercaptan) that smells like rotten eggs.


A leaking natural gas pipe might make a hissing sound you can HEAR.


Outside near a gas leak, you might SEE blowing dirt, bubbling water or a small area of dead plants.

If You Suspect a Natural Gas Leak

If you suspect a natural gas leak, leave your house immediately, tell an adult and call 911 from a safe distance. Get out! Tell an adult! Call 911 and your natural gas company!
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DO NOT use any device that might cause a spark (using the phone, turning off/on the light switch, opening/closing the garage door).

DO NOT light a match, turn on your car or any motor.

DO NOT try to repair the leak, leave that to the professionals.

Finally, DO NOT return until the professionals tell you it is safe to return.

Understanding Carbon Monoxide

If natural gas and oxygen are not properly balanced, incomplete burning of natural gas will produce carbon monoxide, which is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that is very toxic. Carbon monoxide (CO) can cause illness, and in extreme cases, even death.
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Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Flu-like symptoms that go away when you leave the house.
  • Sleepiness, irritability and an inability to concentrate.
  • Nausea and vomiting, shortness of breath, convulsions and unconsciousness.

Safety tip:

  • Make sure you and your parents have carbon monoxide detectors installed in your living and sleeping areas.
  • If you have these symptoms and think you may have carbon monoxide poisoning, get outside, get safe and call 911.


  • Make sure all fuel-burning appliances have good air circulation and all vents, flues and chimneys are clear and inspected regularly.
  • Never run a car inside the garage or use outdoor grills or appliances inside.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home for safety (different than a smoke alarm which is also an important safety feature).
  • Following these guidelines and knowing the causes and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning will help keep you and your family safe!

My Safe Home

This Home Safety Checklist will help you and your family better understand how to safely use natural gas in your home. Always investigate around appliances with an adult!


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