February 10, 2014 – There is still plenty of winter weather ahead and National Grid reminds its Massachusetts and Rhode Island customers to use caution when clearing snow to avoid covering or damaging natural gas lines, meters, regulators, and intake and exhaust vents for gas appliances. Customers should keep their gas meters clear of snow and should be careful not to drop heavy rooftop snow onto any outside meter. Customers should also use care when shoveling or plowing near outside gas lines, because damage to this equipment can result in a natural gas leak.
As the winter months continue, National Grid reminds customers about what actions they should take if they suspect a natural gas leak and how to avoid exposure to potentially deadly carbon monoxide.
Report Natural Gas Leaks
Like any fuel, natural gas is safe when used properly. In the interest of customer and public safety, National Grid crews continually test, repair and improve the underground system that delivers natural gas, but the possibility does exist for a gas leak in or near your home. Natural gas is odorless, but National Grid adds a harmless substance called mercaptan, which has a strong odor similar to that of a rotten egg, to natural gas so that you can tell if gas is escaping.
Any natural gas leak is a potentially hazardous situation. If you or a loved one detect a natural gas leak, National Grid recommends that you evacuate the premises for your own safety while taking the following immediate actions:
- Do NOT touch any electrical or light switches, appliances, thermostats, doorbells, phones or anything that could cause a spark.
- Do NOT turn any electrical equipment on or off.
- Do NOT pull any plugs from outlets.
- Do NOT smoke or light matches.
- If you have a gas range or oven, make sure the controls are turned OFF. Extinguish any easily accessible open flames such as lit candles, but never try to put out a fire you suspect may be caused by escaping gas. Leave immediately.
- Call National Grid’s gas emergency number from a safe location: 1-800-233-5325 in Massachusetts and 1-800-640-1595 in Rhode Island. National Grid technicians respond immediately to any calls about gas leaks.
- Do not return to your home until National Grid tells you it is safe.
Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless gas that can be deadly if left undetected. It is the byproduct of the incomplete burning of fuels such as natural gas, butane, propane, wood, coal, heating oil, kerosene and gasoline. Common sources of carbon monoxide include malfunctioning forced-air furnaces, kerosene space heaters, natural gas ranges, wood stoves, fireplaces and motor vehicle engines. During the heating season when windows and doors are tightly shut, fresh air is sealed out, creating the potential for carbon monoxide to build up over time. National Grid reminds its customers of the following safety information to help identify and prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to those of the flu. Depending upon the amount of carbon monoxide in the air and length of exposure, symptoms may include headaches, weakness, confusion, chest tightness, skin redness, dizziness, nausea, sleepiness, fluttering of the heart or loss of muscle control. If you suspect carbon monoxide is present in your home, go outside immediately and call 911. After calling 911, call the appropriate National Grid emergency contact number:
- Massachusetts: 1-800-233-5325
- Rhode Island: 1-800-640-1595
Carbon Monoxide Prevention Tips:
- Arrange for an annual check of your heating system by a licensed professional heating contractor. If you haven’t had your heating system inspected yet, call them now.
- Have your chimney or flue checked for debris, bird nests or other blockages, and have them cleaned periodically.
- Be sure space heaters and wood stoves are in good condition, have adequate ventilation and are used in strict compliance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
- NEVER use a gas range for heating or burn coal or charcoal in an enclosed space.
- Install a government-approved home carbon monoxide detector on every floor.
- If you use a back-up generator to supply power during outage, be sure to operate it outdoors. Open windows do not provide sufficient ventilation to safely operate a generator indoors.
For additional safety information, visit National Grid’s web site: www.nationalgridus.com.
About National Grid
National Grid (LSE: NG; NYSE:NGG) is an electricity and gas company that connects consumers to energy sources through its networks. The company is at the heart of one of the greatest challenges facing our society - to create new, sustainable energy solutions for the future and developing an energy system that underpins economic prosperity in the 21st century. National Grid holds a vital position at the center of the energy system and it ‘joins everything up’.
In the northeast US, we connect more than seven million gas and electric customers to vital energy sources, essential for our modern lifestyles. In Great Britain, we run the gas and electricity systems that our society is built on, delivering gas and electricity across the country.
National Grid delivers electricity to approximately 3.3 million customers in Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island. It is the largest distributor of natural gas in northeastern U.S., serving approximately 3.4 million customers in New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
For more information please visit our website: www.nationalgridus.com.