Gas Safety

Indoor and Outdoor Leaks

If you are one of 150,000 NV Energy natural gas customers, or you live near an underground gas pipeline follow the simple instructions and tips here to enjoy all the benefits of natural gas secure in the knowledge that it’s perfectly safe.

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How to Handle a Gas Leak Indoors

Natural gas is colorless and odorless. Before gas goes into the distribution system, a substance called mercaptan is added, which provides a strong sulfur–like odor. So highly concentrated is this substance that even the smallest amount of natural gas is easily smelled, which warns us of gas leaks. If you experience a gas leak indoors, remember the following safety tips:

• Evacuate everyone from the area.
• Call NV Energy (from a phone outside the leak area) at (775) 834–4100 or call 911.
• Do not use a phone of any kind or any electronic device at the site that operates on batteries.
• Do not light matches, candles or smoking materials.
• Do not turn on or turn off any electrical switch or appliance.
• Do not start a vehicle in a garage or near a natural gas leak; nor should you operate a garage door opener.

If you know where your gas appliance valve or your gas meter valve is located, you might consider turning it off by hand, with a pipe wrench or other appropriate tool. Once you turn it off, don’t attempt to turn it back on. Call NV Energy. If the leaking gas ignites, don’t try to put out the flames. Call 911 and then call NV Energy.

How to Handle a Gas Leak Outdoors

You may someday encounter a leak from a natural gas pipeline outdoors. You would recognize the "rotten eggs" odor, or you may hear a blowing or hissing sound along the pipeline right–of–way (ROW). Pipeline markers are used to mark key pipeline locations. Pipelines are designed, constructed and tested under rigid specifications set by the U.S. Department of Transportation. A high safety margin is built into the pipe, which is made of flexible, corrosion–resistant polyethylene or high–strength coated steel that allows it to withstand the stress caused by floods, earthquakes or landslides. NV Energy personnel constantly monitor the company’s transmission pipelines, service lines and distribution mains to ensure reliable and safe operation.

Despite all these safeguards, pipeline leaks sometimes do occur. Should you detect an outdoor leak, leave the area immediately and call NV Energy at (775) 834-4100.

Call Before You Dig

A homeowner or contractor digging into a pipe is the most common cause of a gas pipeline rupture. Nevada law says you must "Call Before You Dig" at least two business days before the dig is scheduled.

811 is the new nationwide phone number to call to before you dig to locate utility lines. However, 811 may not yet be fully functional in all areas. If so, call 1-800-227-2600.

While this service is free, you are required to outline or mark, in advance, the intended area of excavation. A NV Energy representative will come out to the site of your dig and field mark the path of the utility’s underground facilities on your property.

Residents, excavators and land developers must contact NV Energy at (775) 834–4444 (go to "Design and Construction" when prompted) if there are any questions about the pipeline ROW, especially if property improvements or excavations are planned that might impact the right–of–way.

Any person digging around NV Energy natural gas facilities should be aware that they may encounter buried pipelines that include “Black Wrap” coating asbestos fiber.  Any activity that results in the disturbance of this coating could expose you to asbestos and could be hazardous to your health.  If you encounter this pipe or have any questions, contact NV Energy at 834-4100.

Other Tips on What to Do if You Smell Gas

  • Do not try to locate the source of a leak yourself; leave that to the professionals.
  • Once you leave the building, do not return to the structure until it has been examined and cleared by a representative of NV Energy or the fire department.

Gas Safety Tips

By following the tips below, you may prevent a gas-related accident or emergency.

Gas Dos

  • Do call NV Energy or 911 from a neighbor's house if you smell a strong, persistent smell of gas.
  • Do keep an ABC (dry chemical) fire extinguisher in the kitchen.
  • Do keep the area around your furnace and water heater clean and free from debris.
  • Do keep chimney flues and vents for appliances clean and in good repair.
  • Do clean or replace air filters for your heating system monthly, during the heating season.
  • Do have all gas appliances installed and serviced by licensed or qualified professionals.
  • Do know how to shut appliances off in an emergency.
  • Do teach small children to stay away from gas appliances .
  • Do teach family members what to do if they smell gas.
  • Have all underground utilities located before digging on or around your property. Contact Call Before You Dig at 811 or 1-800-227-2600 at least two working days before you dig.
  • In heavy snow conditions your gas meter may become covered in snow and ice. If this happens you can remove the snow with a broom. Do not use a shovel or any other tools to remove ice or snow. In most cases snow or ice on a gas meter will not result in any problems, however, in the event that the meter needs to be cleared for meter reading purposes or access, do so carefully to avoid damaging the gas meter or regulator.

Gas Don'ts

  • Do not try to locate a gas leak yourself.
  • Do not cover fresh air vents that supply air to your appliances.
  • Do not sleep in a room with an non-vented gas or kerosene heater.
  • Do not cook in loose garments that can catch fire.
  • Do not store gasoline or paint thinner indoors or in the garage.
  • Do not use or store flammable materials near gas appliances.
  • Do not hang things from gas pipes.
  • Do not use the kitchen range or oven as a space heater.
  • Do not chain a pet or anything else to a gas meter or piping.
  • Do not place or build any structures, even a storage shed, over any gas lines or around any gas meters.
  • DO NOT BANG ON THE GAS METER OR PIPING TO CLEAR ICE .

You and Your Gas Appliances

If you have problems with your gas water heater, furnace, or range, follow the manufacturer's instructions for turning equipment on or off, or call a qualified service technician or your gas company. Gas needs just the right amount of air, plus an ignition source like a flame or spark to burn. Ranges and other appliances are carefully adjusted to provide the correct air-gas mixture.

  • All gas appliances must be correctly installed, maintained and vented to the outside.
  • Have all gas appliances installed and serviced by licensed or qualified professionals.
  • Don't use flammables near gas appliances.

Your Heating & Water Heating Appliances

  • Keep the area around your furnace and water heater clean and free from debris. Don't store gasoline or paint thinner indoors.
  • If your heating system has air filters, clean or replace them monthly during the heating season before they become clogged with dirt.
  • Have your gas furnace inspected by a qualified service person. Also check your chimney to ensure the furnace flue is venting properly.
  • Make sure the drain pipe from the relief valve on the water heater is unobstructed. If water or steam comes from this pipe, shut the water heater off and have it serviced. Regular service is important for maximum performance and longevity.
  • Drain a pail-full of water from the water heater at least twice a year to remove sediment from the bottom. If this has never been done before, have it done by a qualified service person.

Your Gas Kitchen Appliances

  • The flame on your gas range should be blue. If not, have a qualified service representative check the range.
  • Keep the kitchen range clean - wash gas range burners with water and detergent. Do not use powder type detergents to clean range burners as they can clog the openings when they dry. Rinse and dry burners before reinstalling. Be careful to not damage or change settings on air shutters or sleeves.
  • If holes in stove burners become clogged, open with an opened paper clip or a piece of wire. Do not use a toothpick or other soft object, as they could break off and obstruct the burner, causing a hazardous condition.
  • When cooking, lower the flame on the gas burner so it doesn't extend beyond the bottom of the pot. Too high a flame wastes energy and is dangerous.
  • Never use the kitchen range or oven as a space heater. This can damage the range and produce dangerous carbon monoxide gas.
  • If your gas range burners don't light, see if the pilot lights are burning. If they're not, turn all burners to "off" and apply a match to each pilot light (unless you have electronic ignition or if there's a strong odor).

Read and follow manufacturer's instructions on your gas equipment. Know how to shut appliances off in an emergency.

Gas Safety & Your Family

Teach your family the dangers of gas, what to be aware of, and how to react if a gas emergency arises.

  • Demonstrate the correct way to light and relight the pilot lights on kitchen ranges and gas burners. Let everyone smell natural gas by briefly turning on an unlit burner. This is the warning smell of a gas leak.
  • Teach small children to stay away from the gas range and all gas-burning appliances.
  • Instruct older children to leave the house and call your gas company or 911 from a nearby phone if they smell a gas odor while you're out.
  • Don't let children swing from pipes or play with flexible connector pipes leading to gas appliances.

    Practice a safety drill for getting the family out of the house at night before an emergency occurs. Practice the drill during the day first, then practice at night when it is dark. During your drill, be sure to open windows and don't turn lights on or off. Also remember, don't light matches or cigarette lighters or use flashlights during the drill because an electric arc might ignite the gas. Plan what you’re going to do and move slowly and carefully.

Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide is a silent killer. Assure that fuel-burning appliances are installed, maintained, and used properly and safely. This includes having an annual inspection of heating and venting equipment by a qualified contractor prior to the heating season, and the use of a carbon monoxide alarm that meets current standards.

To prevent carbon monoxide from forming, make sure your furnace has adequate ventilation and do not use the furnace closet for storage. Ensure that any space heaters are used properly, installed by a qualified professional, and maintained correctly. This includes keeping gasoline, flammable liquids, and other combustible materials away from appliances and other sources of ignition.

It is important to be aware of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. Symptoms can occur immediately or more gradually after long-term exposure. Common symptoms include: dizziness, confusion, shortness of breath, nausea, headaches and fainting.

If you have these symptoms after being in an enclosed area, get fresh air immediately and go to a hospital emergency department or call 911. Be sure to tell your doctor or the emergency responders that you may have carbon monoxide poisoning.

Your Gas Meter

The gas meter measures your home's gas consumption. Be sure you can locate the shutoff valve at the meter. This valve should be closed only in the event of a gas emergency in your home. If you do turn off your gas meter, do not turn it back on yourself. Call NV Energy to turn it back on.