Gas Leak Emergency Protocol

WARNING: If you can smell gas in your home, act immediately. DO NOT switch any switches on or off, including mobile phones. DO NOT light a naked flame. In an emergency or a life-threatening situation, call triple zero (000) immediately.

In this article, we discuss the role of gas in Australian homes and provide guidance on hazards, safety and legal compliance. If you want to know what to do in an emergency or learn about safety practices in your home, click the links to navigate to the relevant section.

Gas in Australian Homes

Gas is a key energy source in more than five million Australians home, providing almost as much energy as electricity.

From cooking and hot water to indoor and outdoor heating –  natural gas is the most common form of mains gas connections. It is an economical energy source costing households 60% less than electricity for the same energy while producing around 25% of the emissions.

Over 100,000 kilometres of transmission and distribution pipelines deliver natural gas to homes around the country. It is considered a safe and reliable energy source, provided your gas appliances and systems are installed by licenced gas fitters.

Gas Hazards & Compliance Certification

Gas leaks in a confined space can be dangerous and potentially deadly and are known to cause nausea and dizziness and, in the worst-case scenario, asphyxiation, fire or explosion.

The Petroleum and Gas Inspectorate has identified two main reasons that gas safety incidents occur:-

  1. Failure to follow manufacturer’s instructions and safety practices when using gas devices
  2. Undertaking repair and installation work without a licence or authorisation.

By law,  a licenced gas technician must undertake all gas repairs, replacement and installation. Certified gas fitters are trained and equipped with specialist tools to complete work to the highest safety standard. They also provide you with a certificate of compliance on their work, as required by law. You will need a gas compliance certificate when:-

  • gas is first connected to your building 
  • gas is reconnected to your building
  • installing new gas pipe/s
  • installing a new gas appliance  –  hot water system, a stove, cooktop, BBQ or oven
  • replacing a gas appliance
  • repairing a gas appliance

You will need to provide your gas compliance certificate to your gas supplier as evidence that your home is gas compliant before they can legally turn the gas on.

Because of the potential danger posed by a gas leak in your home, all members of your household must recognise the smell of gas to raise the alarm and respond quickly.

A licenced gas installation technician can prevent gas safety hazards in your home

Early Warning Signs of a Gas Leak

The smell associated with gas is an additive called mercaptan, described as smelling like rotten eggs or rotten cabbage.

The additive is an effective safety measure that enables people to smell both natural gas and liquid petroleum gas (LPG), which are naturally colourless, tasteless and odourless. As an additional safety measure, you can buy a gas detector. Your local gas fitters will be able to point you in the right direction.

When you smell gas, you need to quickly ascertain whether this is an emergency or a situation best solved with some common sense or perhaps the help of a licenced gas repair technician. Let’s discuss an emergency situation first.

  1. If you smell gas and see sparks or flames present. Leave the location immediately. Call the Queensland Gas Leaks & Emergency Services on 1800 GAS LEAK,
  • If you hear gas “hissing”, you may have a significant gas leak. Get outdoors immediately. Turn your gas supply or appliances off and do not turn them on again until a registered technician has visited your property and ensured it is safe. 

The best way to avoid an emergency gas leak situation is to act at the first signs of a gas leak.

Seven Safety Steps for Gas Leaks

  1. Extinguish any naked flames immediately – matches, lighters, cigarettes, open fires.
  2. Check your gas appliances are turned off. As appliances age, safety mechanisms can degrade, causing gas to leak – in which case we highly recommend you replace or repair the appliance.
  3. Locate your meter, gas bottles and valves and turn them OFF.  You must know in advance how to turn off your gas. You may require a spanner to do this; if so, leave a spanner nearby for use in an emergency.
  4. Turn off gas bottles by turning the valve on the top of the bottle clockwise. Turn off your metered gas supply by turning the valve handle to horizontal.
  5. Ventilate the area. If it is safe to stay long enough to open windows and doors, this can create a draft and escape path for any gas. Preventing the accumulation of gas in a confined or closed space can reduce the risk of fire and explosion.
  6. Leave the property as it may be unsafe to remain on your property. Going to your neighbours is a good choice so that you can talk with the gas inspector.
  7. Call 000 in an emergency or life-threatening situation OR Queensland Gas Leaks & Emergency Services on 1800 GAS LEAK. For minor leak, follow steps 1-6 and call your local gas fitter.

Twelve Tips for LPG Cylinder Safety

Given our affinity for BBQ’s you need to take care when storing, using and transporting LPG cylinders.  Here are twelve ways to ensure good gas safety practices. To ensure BBQ’s are a safe family affair:-

  1. Do not use corroded or damaged LPG cylinders.
  2. Do not use cylinders that are out of date, stamped on the base or neck of the cylinder.
  3. Do not refill your own gas cylinder. Only trained people using special equipment can safely fill gas cylinders.
  4. Re-test cylinders before they expire (ten years)
  5. Check your cylinder for damage, malfunction and leaks
  6. Always carry and store cylinders upright.
  7. Ensure gas valves are turned off tight.
  8. Use a ‘POL’ valve plug in the cylinder when not in use.
  9. Have an approved test station, test, repair, or replace cylinders
  10. Keep gas cylinders away from heat and direct sunlight as much as possible.
  11. Use a regulator when attaching an LPG cylinder to a low-pressure gas device such as your BBQ.
  12. Ensure the regulator hose is empty of gas by turning off the cylinder valve while the gas is still burning.

For information about your LPG cylinders or mains gas supply, please contact your gas supplier. To discuss gas connections or appliance installs, service or repair contact a licenced gas fitting specialists.

Over the years, the National Plumbing and Gas team has helped thousands of customers install and repair gas appliances in their home and get gas to connect to their properties. As authorised and certified gas fitters, you can rest assured that our work is to the highest safety standards and legally compliant. For testing and repairs, installation and gas compliance certification, call National Plumbing and Gas today.