Propane and Gas Safety in Flooding Conditions: EMR-ISAC InfoGram, Nov. 2012
Responding to a gas leak during average conditions is one thing, but responding during a flood or in the aftermath of a hurricane can bring an entirely different set of variables. The following include tips, resources, and things to consider if responding to natural gas and propane leaks or possible leaks during such conditions:
- Both propane and natural gas smell similar to rotten eggs, but each has a distinctively different odor. All first responders should know these smells.
- Be aware of hissing sounds, any confined areas of dead or dying vegetation, or water or dirt spraying or bubbling from the ground.
- Propane tanks can float if broken away from their anchor or pipe systems. Don’t be surprised if emergency calls come in for tanks floating away.
- Be aware that small grill or torch bottles can easily be hidden in debris.
- When approaching a propane tank, don’t assume the resident has shut off the gas. To shut the main gas supply valve on the tank, turn it clockwise.
- Propane is heavier than air, but lighter than water. If there is a propane leak, the propane will pool in the lowest part of the structure.
- Natural gas is lighter than air and will dissipate rapidly. If the leak is inside, this will increase the levels and make combustion more likely.
(Source: Propane Education & Research Council (PERC))