Saskatchewan Gas Safety: Better Safe Than Sorry

Natural Gas

Natural Gas

Natural gas is lighter than air and will dissipate into the atmosphere unless confined. It has a higher combustion temperature than other fuels. Combustion cannot occur unless a narrow range of fuel-to-air mixture is present. If you smell natural gas:


  • Use your NOSE
    SaskEnergy adds an odour to natural gas so you will quickly know if there's a problem. If you smell an odour that is similar to skunk or rotten eggs, there may be a natural gas leak.
  • Use your EYES
    You cannot see natural gas, however if you SEE a vapour, ground frosting, or a significant area of brown vegetation, that could be an indication of a natural gas leak. As well, if you SEE continuous bubbling of wet or flooded areas, or dust blowing from a hole in the ground during drier conditions, there may be a natural gas leak.
  • Use your EARS
    If you HEAR a high-pitched hissing or roaring noise, there may be a natural gas leak.


TAKE ACTION!
If you suspect a leak indoors or outdoors:


  • Leave the home or area immediately
  • DO NOT use any electrical switches, appliances, telephones, motor vehicles, or any other sources of ignition such as lighters
    or matches
  • Call SaskEnergy's 24-hour emergency line from a safe place
    1-888-700-0427
  • DO NOT assume that the issue has already been reported or
    that someone else will call.

$25 Gas Detector Rebate

The most common way to detect a natural gas leak is by smell. The use of a natural gas detector is an additional and/or alternative safety measure for detecting a natural gas leak. 


  • Most gas detectors also detect carbon monoxide. These detectors are appropriate for your home. 
  • You may want to consider purchasing a second gas detector for your garage, keeping in mind that a carbon monoxide detector is not appropriate for a garage. 
  • Smoke detectors do not detect natural gas.


If the warning alarm on your gas detector goes off, be sure to follow the same precautionary steps as indicated above - leave the area immediately and phone 1-888-700-0427


SaskEnergy is currently offering a $25 Gas Detector Rebate.

For safe, efficient use of natural gas in your home, it is important that you respect natural gas, know how to use it properly and follow manufacturer directions for using and taking care of natural gas appliances. By properly caring for your appliances, you'll help ensure safe and effective operation.

Before You Dig, Contact Sask 1st Call

Safety starts with you! Whether you are a contractor or homeowner, planning general landscaping projects or major construction work, you need to ensure you are not digging or encroaching on underground facilities. If you cut a line while digging, you could put yourself and those around you in danger, while also jeopardizing your community’s access to vital emergency services.


Contact Sask 1st Call at least two working days before starting any outdoor project to have the underground lines marked free of charge.


What are the steps for completing a digging project?


When should I get a line locate? 


No job is too small or too big. Contact Sask 1st Call at least two working days before doing ANY digging, landscaping, excavating, or construction work, such as:


  • Fences
  • Decks and patios
  • Trees and shrubs
  • Water features
  • Garages and sheds
  • Any concrete work


How can I prevent a line hit?


Don’t guess how deep the lines are or assume no lines exist. Get a line locate. Natural gas lines can be buried just a few inches below ground or more than a metre below the surface. As the ground settles or grade changes are made (soil is added or removed) the lines can become closer to the surface. When digging, be sure to:


  • Expose the gas line by hand within one metre on either side of the flags before using any mechanical digging equipment or machinery near the marked area. Once you see the lines, you can use other digging and excavating equipment, such as an auger or backhoe, at a safe distance from the lines.
  • Plant trees at least one metre away from locate marks. More distance is required if you are planting larger trees using machinery such as a tree spade. If you are unsure, contact SaskEnergy before planting.


What if I am only building on the surface and not digging?


  • You still need to be aware of the location of underground services. Building any structure, such as a garage, shed, deck, or patio over underground lines or within a utility easement can become a safety hazard.
  • For your safety, and in the case of an emergency, if SaskEnergy has to access a line located under a structure on your property, you will be responsible for all associated costs to make the situation right.
  • If underground natural gas infrastructure is identified within the area you are trying to build, contact SaskEnergy to help you determine whether your structure is acceptable or if it should be redesigned to avoid becoming a safety hazard or access concern.


What can happen if I hit a line?


Some of the consequences of a line hit include:


  • Lengthy service outages for customers in the area.
  • Equipment damages.
  • Costs for which you will be charged, including the costs of SaskEnergy’s time and resources to respond, repairs to the line, restoring service to affected customers, the cost of escaping natural gas, and - in some areas of Saskatchewan - the fire department and other First Responder costs. These expenses can add up to be thousands of dollars.
  • Fines and legal action.
  • Personal injury or death.


What should I do if I hit a line?


If you suspect a natural gas line has been damaged:

DO:

  1. Call SaskEnergy’s 24-Hour Emergency number, 1-888-700-0427 and 911. Any line damage, no matter how minor, must be reported to SaskEnergy. Damage includes nicks to the coating on steel pipe and scratches to plastic pipe.
  2. Turn off machinery and eliminate all sources of ignition.
  3. Shut off vehicle engines.
  4. Remove any sources of ignition and extinguish cigarettes or any open flame.
  5. Evacuate the area, including buildings. Move people upwind if possible.
  6. Prevent vehicles and bystanders from entering the area.
  7. Call the fire department if there is a danger of fire.
  8. Avoid contact with any natural gas escaping from the pipeline.
  9. Notify people in nearby buildings, as gas might enter through drains if the break or leak is underground or through fresh air intakes and windows if gas leak is in the air.


Learn to recognize signs of a natural gas leak. You may be able to detect a gas leak from a pipeline by sight, smell or sound.

DON’T:

  1. Attempt to repair the leak or stop escaping gas.
  2. Turn electrical switches on or off.
  3. Operate any machinery, including vehicles.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) is odourless, colourless, tasteless, non-irritating, poisonous — and deadly.

CO is produced when burning common fuels such as natural gas, propane and kerosene. Excessive amounts of CO will form when there isn’t proper ventilation or an adequate air supply.

When CO is inhaled, red blood cells don't get the oxygen they need. Continued exposure to high levels of CO leads to unconsciousness, convulsions, brain damage and ultimately, death.


Common carbon monoxide sources in your home:


  • Corroded, disconnected or plugged chimneys on fuel-burning appliances
  • Barbecuing indoors
  • An idling vehicle in an attached garage
  • Attached garage passageway door to your home is left ajar
  • Heated garages or shops with unvented or improperly vented equipment
  • Defective furnace heat exchanger
  • Depressurization (i.e. a change in your home’s air pressure when inside air is exhausted faster than outside fresh air can come in)


Signs that there may be carbon monoxide in your home:


  • Stuffy air
  • Sudden formation of excessive moisture on windows and walls
  • Soot build-up around appliances and vents
  • A yellow flame in a natural gas appliance instead of blue
  • Fumes that may smell similar to vehicle exhaust (CO is odourless, but may be accompanied by other exhaust-like fumes)
  • Properly functioning detector indicates there is CO in the air


Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning:


  • Dizziness
  • Burning eyes
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Loss of muscle control
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion


HOW TO HELP KEEP YOUR HOME AND FAMILY SAFE FROM CO


Don’t put your family’s safety at risk — a carbon monoxide detector in your home alerts you to danger before physical symptoms of CO poisoning appear. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement, maintenance and replacement of your detector.

Carbon monoxide detectors are just part of the solution. Practice the following tips to help keep your family safe:


  • Ensure gas equipment, chimneys and gas appliances (including gas ranges) are properly installed, maintained and inspected annually by a licensed gas contractor.
  • Check your furnace filter and change it regularly.
  • Never leave your vehicle idling in the garage, even if the door is open. Start lawn mowers and snowblowers outside.
  • Open a window to replace air before you light a wood-burning fireplace or woodstove. Keep it open until the fire is completely extinguished.
  • Keep the area around gas equipment clear; it needs air for the flame to burn properly. If the equipment is blocked, the airflow will be stifled which may cause CO.
  • Make sure the furnace and water heater vent pipes to the chimney are in good condition and are securely fastened.
  • Keep furnace panels and grills in place and make sure the fan compartment door is secure.
  • Keep flue vents and chimneys clear of debris and other blockages, including frost and snow.
  • Don’t operate an unvented appliance (e.g. barbecue or portable propane heater) in an enclosed space, such as a garage, ice shack, tent, shop, shed, automobile, RV or trailer, or near any combustible materials.
  • Never operate a generator in a house, garage or any enclosed building.
  • Make sure your licensed gas contractor install an adequately sized combustion air supply duct in your furnace room or near your gas appliances. This is especially important for homes being upgraded for increased energy efficiency.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions for proper operation and care of heating equipment and appliances.
  • Never tamper with, or attempt to adjust, heating devices or safety controls on heating equipment and appliances.I
  • If you are adding exhaust fans, making changes to the ventilation system, or upgrading your home for increased energy efficiency (like adding more insulation), consult a qualified heating contractor. These changes may impact the operation of your existing gas appliances, and potentially lead to CO.


WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CO DETECTOR ALARM GOES OFF


Remain calm. Take the following steps to determine the reason for the alarm:


IF SOMEONE IS EXPERIENCING SYMPTOMS OF CO POISONING


Everyone should leave the house immediately and seek medical treatment if required. Call 911 (or your local fire department if you live in an area without 911 coverage) as soon as you are in a safe location outside of your home.

  • Do not re-enter your home until the CO level had been checked and it is deemed safe to do so.
  • Do not re-occupy your home until the sources of the CO has been found and eliminated.


IF NOBODY IS EXPERIENCING SYMPTOMS


  • Shut off any gas appliances and open the doors and windows to ventilate your home.
  • If your alarm stops while your home ventilates, you may have low levels of CO in your home. Call a qualified gas contractor to check your gas appliances as soon as possible.
  • Other possible causes of CO in your home can include:
    • Vehicle exhaust entering your home
    • Burning of candles or oil lamps
    • Cigarette smoke
  • If the alarm continues to sound with your home ventilated, your detector may be at the end of its life cycle (3-5 years) or the batteries may need to be replaced.
  • Other known reasons for false alarms:
    • Prolonged humidity, if installed near a bathroom or an open window when it's humid outside
    • Chemicals and cleaning products
    • Lint, dust or hair built up on sensors.

Check Your Chimney

If you have an older style furnace or water heater, you will have a chimney that rises up through your roof. It’s a good idea to routinely check the chimney for obstructions.

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Signature Plumbing & Heating

Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

(306) 529-3287