Safety Starts With You.
Natural gas is completely safe when it's sealed inside pipes and used in the right way. The danger occurs when gas leaks out or doesn't combust properly in an appliance.
Natural gas is flammable - if there is a flame or even a spark in the area of a leak, it could cause an explosion. Fortunately, natural gas leaks are very rare. Explosions are even more uncommon - the mixture of natural gas and oxygen in the air must be at a precise proportion for a spark to set it off.
When it's pumped from deep under the earth, natural gas is colorless, tasteless and odorless. Utility companies add a chemical to give the gas a distinct aroma: rotten eggs. This makes even a tiny gas leak easier to detect.
Most natural gas safety rules are simple common sense. Still, it can be easy to overlook something, especially when you’re busy or in a hurry. We have provided these simple tips to help you and your family eliminate potential safety hazards.
DO install a gas/carbon monoxide detector near the living and sleeping areas of your home. While an odorant is also added to natural gas to assist with the detection of a gas leak, Greater Minnesota Gas encourages the use of a consumer gas detector that detects carbon monoxide, methane and propane.
DO make sure that any unused gas lines in your home that previously provided gas to an appliance or furnace are securely capped. Contact a qualified plumbing and heating contractor to assure that no gas will leak from the unused line. Once the line is securely capped, you can rest easier knowing that your home is safe!
DO leave at least 18 inches of clearance around your gas furnace and water heater, and at least six inches around gas stoves and clothes dryers. Always follow manufacturer clearance installation instructions.
DO keep paints, papers, aerosol sprays and other flammables away from gas appliances.
DO make sure the vent hood, pipes and flues on your gas appliances aren't blocked, cracked or corroded.
DO keep children and pets away from utility equipment, including meters.
DO keep your meter free of ice and snow during the winter.
DO follow the manufacturer recommended temperature settings on your water heater. Some people including children and elderly may be at an increased risk for burns due to higher than recommended water temperatures.
DON'T store or stack boxes, laundry or other materials around the base of a gas appliance.
DON'T let kids play on or around gas equipment, including meters and pipes.
DON'T wear long sleeves around a gas stove, and keep towels and potholders away from the open flame.
DON'T try to use a gas oven or range to heat a room.
DON'T disguise transformers or meters with paint or bushes - a utility worker might need to work safely around it or find it quickly in an emergency.
DON'T tamper with an electric or gas meter (it's dangerous and illegal).
Reporting Gas Odors and Emergencies
If you suspect a natural gas leak, react like it’s an emergency. Although rare, natural gas leaks can be dangerous and result in an explosion. There is no charge for a leak investigation.
Signs of a Leak
- Do you smell an unusual odor, like a rotten egg?
- Do you hear blowing or hissing?
- Do you see unexplained dead or dying vegetation?
- Do you see bubbles coming from the ground - land or water?
- Do not try to find or repair the leak.
- Leave the area immediately and keep others away.
- Do not start vehicles, turn on lights, or use telephones.
- Call Greater MN Gas at (888) 931-3411 from a remote location.
- If you can hear gas hissing or blowing, call 911.
Carbon Monoxide (CO) Safety
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a silent killer. Since the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning mimic those of the flu, victims often don’t realize the cause of their illness. CO symptoms can occur immediately or more gradually after long-term exposure. Protect your family by learning the symptoms.
Symptoms do not include a fever, but do include:
- Shortness of breath
It’s important to know that you can’t see or smell CO. Only a CO detector can alert you to a problem. Health officials recommend having CO detectors on every level of your home and within ten feet of any sleeping areas. Just as you do with smoke detectors, check and replace batteries in CO detectors too.
CO comes from poorly functioning appliances, or appliances that are not vented or incorrectly vented. Appliances such as furnaces, space heaters, and even gas or charcoal grills all pose a threat. Outdoor equipment such as portable generators, heaters, and stoves, can create dangerous levels of CO in cabins and especially in hunting and fishing shacks.
Have your natural gas appliances inspected regularly. Make recommended repairs promptly and keep them in good working order.
If you suspect CO poisoning, get fresh air immediately. Be sure to call for help before helping others. That way you don’t pass out before making that first call to alert emergency responders.
Consumer Gas Detectors
Greater Minnesota Gas encourages the use of consumer gas detectors that detects carbon monoxide, methane and propane. Natural gas is composed of mainly methane which is a highly flammable chemical with no odor. Natural gas companies like Greater Minnesota Gas add an odorant that smells like rotten eggs to help with the detection of gas leaks. Sometimes the rotten egg odor can go undetected. If you install a carbon monoxide detector please consider installing one that can also detect gas. Even if your gas detector is not going off and you suspect a gas leak, react like it is an emergency. Call your gas company right away. Greater Minnesota Gas will investigate any report of a gas leak free of charge.
Consumer gas detectors should be installed in or near bedrooms and on each level of your home. If your appliances run on natural gas it is recommended that you install your detector high on the wall to ensure the earliest detection of a leak. If you have questions about consumer gas detectors or you suspect a leak please call Greater Minnesota Gas toll free at (888)931-3411.
If Your Service Has Been Disconnected...
GMG is committed to making safety a priority for its customers, for its employees, and for the general public. Therefore, certain safety precautions must be taken prior to reconnecting natural gas service at a customer location. If service has been disconnected for 60 days or more, including disconnection for non-payment, GMG requires that a licensed heating or mechanical contractor validate the integrity of the customer's gas piping facilities prior to reconnection. GMG must receive a completed safety inspection form from the contractor indicating that the facilities are in a safe condition for the redelivery and use of natural gas. The written confirmation must appear on the contractor's official stationery and must include the contractor's business name, address, telephone number, and state license/federal tax id number. The form is available for download at the bottom of this page. Or to receive one by mail, email or fax, contact our office toll free at (888)931-3411.
Upon receipt of the contractor's confirmation, GMG will disconnect the customer's piping at the meter and install a meter outlet valve for the customer (unless a metered outlet valve is already installed on the customer's meter). GMG will then provide gas through the metered outlet valve, which shall be in a closed position. The contractor will need to return to connect the customer's piping, turn on the valve, and relight the customer's appliances.
GMG kindly reminds customers that unauthorized tampering with GMG's equipment (including attempting to restore service to a locked or disconnected meter); or, a condition determined to be hazardous to the customer, to other GMG customers, to the public, or to GMG's employees, equipment, or service may result in immediate service disconnection without notice. In that event, disconnection of gas service does not relieve the customer from the customer's obligation to GMG. Please do not hesitate to contact GMG's office should you have any questions about GMG's reconnection policies.
Safety Inspection Form (61 KB)