If you suspect the escape of natural gas within your home, contact your gas distributor immediately. Their contact details are here, or their emergency number will be on your last gas bill. If you smell gas take the following precautions:
- Extinguish all flames and do not smoke or strike matches
- Do not operate electrical switches or devices
- Inside a dwelling open doors and windows to ventilate the area
- Keep people away from the affected area
- Turn off the gas at the meter (natural gas users) or at the tank or cylinder (LP gas users) but only if safe to do so
Most LP gas storage cylinders and tanks show the name of the gas supplier and emergency contact details. Keep these details close at hand and use them if you suspect your cylinder or tank is leaking.
Natural gas is now available in many areas that are subject to bushfire threat.
Below are gas safety tips that should be included within your bushfire plan.
Preparing your LP Gas cylinders for bushfire
- Turn LP Gas cylinders off (clockwise) at the valve on top of the cylinder
- Leave LP Gas cylinders where they are installed
- Leave LP Gas cylinders in an upright position, never lie them down
- Ensure LP Gas cylinders are secured to a solid structure and are sitting on a solid base so they can not fall over
- LP Gas cylinders attached to wooden framed barbecues should be placed on a solid base
- Ensure LP Gas cylinder safety valves face away from combustible building materials to reduce damage caused by over-pressurised cylinders venting at the building
- Remove gas bottles or cylinders stored indoors or underneath the property
Gas cylinder safety
- Do not place LP Gas cylinders inside a house or structure - they may become a hazard to persons fighting the fire
- Do not cover LP Gas cylinders with wet material to keep cool as it may dry out and become combustible and heat the cylinder further
- Heat damaged cylinders should be checked by a registered gas professional
- Do not transport a gas cylinder that has been subjected to fire or severe heat - ask your LP Gas supplier to collect it
Always turn off the gas supply at the meter when leaving your property or in your preparations to defend it.
If your property has been affected by fire, the installation must be checked before turning the gas supply back on. Damage to components may not be visible or obvious.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odourless, colourless gas that can be produced by faulty, un-serviced gas heaters and it can be fatal.
Get brick chimneys and gas heaters checked this winter to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning
Energy Safe Victoria is urging all Victorians with gas heaters built into brick chimneys to have them tested for carbon monoxide spillage before winter. This includes space and room heaters and decorative log fires.
While brick chimneys are designed to safely remove combustion products from the home, they can deteriorate over time. Any holes in the mortar or brick work may stop the chimney drawing properly. If the fault is significant, it may create back pressure and push toxic carbon monoxide into living areas.
Financial assistance for the replacement of open flued instantaneous gas water heaters
ESV is offering a grant of $500, to contribute to the cost of replacing open flued instantaneous gas water heaters, installed in a toilet or a bathroom in the home.
The use of these water heaters in a confined living space can expose occupants to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
This grant is open to Aged Pension card holders and Healthcare card holders only. Please complete the Application for Assistance Form and send to ESV for processing.
Energy Safe Victoria provides guidance on gas safety and efficiency – call 1800 069 588 for information or visit http://www.esv.vic.gov.au.
Before you start any type of excavation work, you should contact Dial Before You Dig to check if any of our gas pipes are buried beneath the surface.
Dial Before You Dig is a free community service organisation that is supported by Energy Safe Victoria and other major service providers to provide you with locations for gas pipes, and information about underground electricity cables, water pipes and telecommunications tables – saving you from incurring major expense, or suffering a serious injury.
Even if you were to uncover a gas pipe, but not rupture it immediately, you can damage the protective outer coating that could fail at a later date.
Lodge your enquiry online at "DIAL BEFORE YOU DIG" web site or call 1100.
Natural gas has a distinct odour, and to help keep your family safe, it’s important to be familiar with the smell. Gas safety depends on many things, including the gas user taking care. Always get a certificate of compliance (COC) for any gas works or installation in your home.
Servicing gas appliances
Energy Safe Victoria and the Plumbing Industry Commission recommend that all gas water heaters, space heaters and central heaters be serviced at least every two years by a registered or licensed gasfitter to ensure they are working properly and to keep your family safe.
The gasfitter who services your appliance must use a CO analyser to test for carbon monoxide spillage.
Registered gasfitters may be found in your local newspaper or the Yellow Pages.
Gas appliances need regular servicing as:
- Burners in water heaters or space heaters can become blocked with dust or lint and then soot up the heat exchanger and flue passageways
- Air filters, air ways and fans can become blocked by lint and dust, leading to overheating and burner problems
- Safety controls can wear out and fail
Always follow the manufacturer's service plan and keep a record of the date of service.
Operate gas appliances correctly
- Use gas appliances only for their intended purpose and according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- Never tamper with safety valves or other fittings and do not use excessive force to open or close gas control knobs
- Never use an oven to heat a room or as a clothes dryer
- Turn off your radiant gas heater when you leave the house or go to sleep
- Always supervise young children near heaters or any gas appliance.
- Clean your oven, grill, cook top and rangehood regularly to prevent the build up of spilled fats and burnt foods and reduce the risk of fire
Remove clothing and paper from around gas appliances
- Items such as clothing and paper left close to or on gas appliances are a fire risk.
Don't get distracted in the kitchen
- If you have something on the stove and are called away, turn off the burners or take a wooden spoon with you to remind you what you've left behind.
- Never leave frying chips unattended, as the oil may boil over and start a fire.
Take care using flammable products
- Do not pour petrol near a gas appliance or flue outlet - petrol fumes may be ignited by the appliance flame
- Do not fill your mower with petrol near a gas appliance or flue outlet
- Do not spray aerosols near operating gas appliances - the flammable gas in aerosols pressure packs can be a fire hazard
- Don't store chemicals or pressure packs on or near a gas appliance - heat may cause them to react or explode
- Never use or store flammable materials such as petrol, mineral turpentine, paint or combustible cleaning solutions near a gas appliance
- Turn off any pilot burners before using tile adhesive or solvents near a gas appliance
Be careful near your gas supplyTake care when using lawn mowers, brush cutters or digging in the garden so you do not damage gas pipes or your gas meter assembly.
Gas is a fast and effective way to cook, please check out some great tips about how to cook safely with gas.
Tips on cooking safely
ESV has the following tips to ensure safety in the kitchen while cooking:
- Never leave cooking unattended
- Never get distracted. If you are called away, turn off the gas
- Never allow a child to cook without adult supervision
- Turn pot handles away from the stove edge
- Keep stoves and cook tops free of grease and fat build-up
- Hang tea-towels and oven mitts away from the stove
- Wear tight-fitting sleeves when cooking
- Ensure the exhaust fan above the stove is clean and free of grease and fat build-up
- Have a fire blanket and extinguisher in the kitchen
- Ensure smoke alarms are working
- Have a fire escape plan in place
- Feeling cold? Do not use cooking appliances as heaters. They are not designed for this purpose
- When cooking with gas, make sure the flame does not go out - gas can escape silently and invisibly
Gas cookers and clearances
It is important your kitchen complies with certain safety standards. Gas cookers and hotplates must have adequate clearance from combustible surfaces, for example:
- Range-hoods must be at least 600mm above the cooking appliance
- Exhaust fans must be 750mm above the appliance
- Burners must have clearances of 200mm, unless the nearby wall or surface is suitably protected
Cooking with fats and oils
When cooking, be especially careful when cooking with fats and oils.
Never leave cooking unattended even for a few moments - it is one of the most common and preventable causes of domestic fires, with over 30 per cent of Victorian house fires starting in the kitchen or cooking area.
Fats and cooking oils will ignite once they have reached a certain temperature.
Never use water to put out fat and oil fires. Water can cause a fire to spread rapidly and inflict horrific burns. If a fire starts, turn off the stove or cover the flame with the pot lid if it is safe to do so. Then use an appropriate fire extinguisher, such as a wet chemical extinguisher, or fire blanket to smother the flames.
Many people fail to realise the potential severity of scald burns. Extensive scald injuries can be life threatening, especially in young people and the elderly. Most scald injuries that occur in the home are easily preventable.
Flues and ventilation safety tips
Adequate ventilation and proper flueing are essential for the safe and efficient operation of gas appliances.
Many internal domestic gas appliances are designed to operate with a flue. There are two common types of flue:
- an open flue, which is fitted through the ceiling and roof
- a room sealed flue, which is usually fitted through the wall.
Discolouration or stains on walls or an appliance casing may be signs of a blocked flue. This could mean combustion products are spilling into the room and there is a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. The appliance should be turned off immediately until it can be inspected and serviced by a licensed gasfitter.
A licensed gasfitter will make sure your flue is not obstructed or blocked and there are no holes in the flue - these problems can cause flue gases to escape into your house instead of passing safely outside.
The flue cowl must be in good condition so that it does not collapse into the flue outlet and obstruct it. The flue cowl must also prevent entry of vermin or birds that may obstruct the flue pipe.Ensure the flue terminal of a room sealed or outdoor appliance is free of plant growth, insect nests or any other obstruction.
Gas cookers and unflued gas heaters consume air and release combustion products into the room. They can make the room stuffy if there is inadequate ventilation. Water vapour present in the combustion products can also condense on cold surfaces and may lead to mould growth on walls and ceilings where there is poor ventilation.
Ensure a room is adequately ventilated when an unflued appliance is being used.
Flueless heaters - restrictions
There are restrictions on the installation of flueless heaters operating on Natural Gas in Victoria. Consult with your licensed gasfitter before considering purchasing or installing. This restriction also applies to new and second-hand flueless heaters imported from interstate and overseas. Cabinet heaters are not permitted (mobile heaters containing an LP Gas cylinder).
The effect of exposure to air pollutants on your health depends on the type and amount of pollutants to which you are exposed, and can occur immediately at the time of exposure or be delayed.
The most common air pollutants from gas combustion are carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides. Young children and people with asthma or other respiratory illnesses are most at risk from air pollutants. Water vapour is not regarded as an air pollutant, but an accumulation of moisture in the room from heating may lead to the growth of moulds and dust mites, which have the potential to affect health.The emission levels vary depending on the type of heater, the design of the burner and regular servicing.
The level of emissions in a room will vary according to:
- The use of the room
- The size of the room compared to the input of the heater
- The ability of the room's ventilation to remove or dilute emissions.
General tips for the safe use of flued and flue-less appliances
When using flueless gas heaters:
- Always follow the manufacturer's instructions
- Keep appliance grilles and vents clear of obstructions and free of lint and dust
- Ensure room ventilation is adequate
- Minimise usage per day - consider a flued appliance where long usage is required
- Never use an unflued gas heater in the room where you sleep or in a caravan
- Have your heater serviced before each heating season
Some members of our community need additional safety measures and devices to ensure gas appliances are operated correctly, and to protect them from an appliance malfunction or alert them to an emergency.
People with a reduced sense of smell may not detect the odorant in gas, while others may have difficulty using gas appliance controls and safety features. These people and their carers should consider the use of appropriate additional safety devices.
Gas safety devices include:
- Gas alarms that emit a loud noise or shut down the gas supply when unburnt gas or carbon monoxide are detected.
- Gas shut-off systems that are activated by a loss of flame or the presence of un-burned gas
- 'Passive' devices such as additional guards, easy-grip or marked knobs, and devices that remind that cooking is in progress
- Manual shut-off valves operated by carers to prevent appliance use
Regular gas appliance servicing is very important for the elderly, disabled and those with impaired abilities.