While natural gas is harmless when properly contained, it can be dangerous if a leak occurs. Colorless, tasteless, and odorless, detecting it can be difficult. Used in many industrial settings, there are also numerous pipelines transporting natural gas along isolated and rough terrains. Because of this, knowing how to respond to a natural gas emergency is crucial to preventing a catastrophic event from occurring. Along with having on-site personnel well-trained in emergency procedures, having the correct natural gas monitors installed at a facility can also play a key role in keeping people and property safe. For additional information on responding to natural gas emergencies, here are some details to keep in mind.
Lower Explosive Limits
While natural gas is non-toxic, it can quickly lead to fires or explosions if not properly contained and controlled. Due to this possibility, most facilities install natural gas detectors that can monitor lower explosive limits for natural gas, known commonly as LEL monitors. In most cases, the natural gas leak detectors will monitor a range of 5-15%, since this is the typical range for a natural gas mixture emanating from a pipeline or industrial equipment.
Identify the Source of the Leak
Most importantly, identifying the source of the leak is critical to containing it as quickly as possible. To do so, employees and emergency personnel can use a portable natural gas monitor, allowing them to move from one area to another quickly. This is especially useful if the leak is thought to be emanating in a confined space, since monitoring these areas is often done with portable monitors.
Since an emergency situation requires accurate and reliable data that allows emergency personnel to make the best decisions, always have a natural gas detector on-site that transmits real-time data to engineers and safety technicians both on-site and located in monitoring centers. By doing so, data can be quickly gathered, analyzed, and decisions and instructions made and given immediately. Along with this, make sure all personnel are trained in how to properly read the monitors, since a delay or mistake could lead to a tragedy.
Evacuate the Area
To ensure the safety of everyone nearby, evacuate all non-essential personnel as quickly as possible. Along with this, once the source of the leak is detected, attempt to shut off the natural gas flow. If this can be done safely, firefighters and other emergency personnel will not only be safer, but also have a better chance of containing the situation before a major fire or explosion occurs.
Beware of Ignition Sources
In these situations, all personnel should beware of possible ignition sources, such as electrical equipment. Since turning this equipment off and on can create sparks that ignite leaking gas, make sure emergency procedures in this area are properly followed by everyone at the site.
To learn more details about responding to natural gas emergencies and the detectors and monitors that can make these situations safer, contact an Applications Engineer at GDS by calling 409-927-2980 or visiting www.gdscorp.com.