Many Australians are switching to natural gas appliances in an effort to help reduce their carbon footprint and decrease their energy bills. Others who are not familiar with natural gas are concerned about its possible dangers. Natural gas, like LPG and petrol, is a highly volatile substance, so precautions are called for. However, just as built-in safety features in automobiles and at the pump make petrol safe to you, safety is built into gas appliances. If you do your part, staying safe with gas is as easy as following these 10 simple rules:
1. Avoid any possible danger posed by leaking gas fumes with good ventilation.
2. Remember that the naked flame of a gas burner can quickly ignite other flammable materials. Never use or store aerosols or flammable liquids around a gas appliance and avoid bringing clothing, paper products or other flammable materials into close proximity with gas appliances.
3. Always follow manufacturer's directions when using gas appliances. If one type of gas (such as natural gas) is specified by the manufacturer, do not attempt to substitute another type (such as LPG).
4. Keep your gas oven and cooktop clean and free of oils, fats and other combustible materials.
5. Have your gas appliances serviced regularly.
6. Never attempt to service your gas appliances yourself or alter their fittings.
7. If your gas stove or cooktop does not ignite immediately, turn off the gas and let the fumes dissipate before trying again.
8. Educate your children about the dangers of fire and gas and make sure they understand how important it is that they never attempt to play with or around gas appliances.
9. If you smell gas fumes, but cannot locate the source of the leak, turn off the gas supply, ventilate the house and call the local authorities or a licenced gas fitter
10. If a bush fire is approaching, turn off the gas supply at its source.
If for any reason you need to turn the gas off at its source of entry, for natural gas supplies, look for a valve inside your wall or garden meter box. Turn it to the horizontal position and it will shut off the supply to the entire house. If you have bottled gas, turn the valve clockwise until it closes completely. When you're ready to turn it on again, make sure all the appliances indoors are turned off first. After turning the gas on, you may need to re-light pilot lights. To do this, carefully follow the manufacturers' instructions (usually clearly displayed near the pilot light).