Emergency officials play an important role in natural gas safety. In the rare event of a pipeline leak, you are usually the first to arrive at the scene. Natural gas companies count on you to take charge and establish a safety zone until company representatives have arrived.
Prevention: the best defense against leaks
The best defense against natural gas leaks is prevention and awareness. Most incidents occur due to lack of knowledge. Natural gas companies work hard to keep our pipeline system safe for everyone. As an emergency official, you can do your part by keeping the following safety tips in mind:
• Know where the pipelines are in your jurisdiction. If you notice any missing, damaged or obscured pipeline markers, contact the natural gas company listed on the nearest marker so they can be replaced.
• Be on the lookout for any suspicious activity or unauthorized digging.
By law, individuals must contact Indiana811 at 1-800-382-5544, at least
two working days BEFORE they start to dig for any landscape or construction
• Trust your senses. Here are the three main ways to detect a natural gas leak:
SMELL — To help you SMELL a leak from a gas line or appliance, a familiar odor like rotten eggs is often added to natural gas.
SEE — Near a gas leak, you might SEE blowing dirt, bubbling water or an unusual area of dead vegetation.
HEAR — A leaking pipeline might make a hissing sound you can HEAR.
Help keep residents safe during a natural gas emergency
Here are some simple DOs and DON'Ts for emergency officials to remember if dispatched to a pipeline incident (the following tips are general guidelines; they are not meant to replace an existing emergency response plan):
• Call the natural gas company listed on the nearest pipeline marker with the location and type of emergency from a safe distance. If no company is listed, call 9-1-1.
• Protect the public by evacuating and securing the area and providing traffic control and emergency services if necessary.
• Let escaping gas burn if on fire.
• Allow natural gas company representatives to operate valves.
• Use only intrinsically safe equipment.
• Attempt to operate any pipeline system equipment.
• Turn vehicles or equipment on or off or use a device that might create a spark, like a cell phone, without leaving the area first.
How natural gas companies respond
Once the appropriate natural gas company is notified, personnel are immediately dispatched to help handle the emergency, keep emergency officials informed and take necessary steps (e.g. starting and stopping equipment, closing and opening valves) to correct the problem.
To learn more...
For more information about natural gas emergency response and training, or about how we plan for emergencies contact your local natural gas company. Another valuable online resource is www.pipelineemergencies.com, a Web site created by the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) and the U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
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