Know how to detect and handle a natural gas leak

The gas we use to cook with, heat our homes and even warm our water is nothing to be afraid of.

But it is necessary to be aware of the dangers it can present if there’s a leak, or if the piping that carries the gas is worn or damaged. Here are some danger signs to watch for that indicate you may have a natural or propane gas leak.

• If you smell a rotten-egg- or sulfur-type smell coming from inside or outside your home.

• A blowing or hissing sound that may be coming from a busted or damaged pipe.

• Dirt or dust blowing from a hole in the ground.

• Dead or discolored vegetation in an otherwise green area outside your home.

• Flames, if a leak has ignited.

If the gas has ignited, let it burn. Do not put out the flame; burning gas will not explode.

If you do detect a gas smell in your home, immediately open some available windows in the house and get out. It’s as easy as that. Do not turn off lights, and don’t use anything electrical — or even the telephone. They could spark and ignite the gas. Make a call from a neighbor’s home and report it immediately to your local gas company.

Natural or propane gas is perfectly safe and has been giving us countless years of comfort and a higher quality of living. Keep an eye peeled for the warning signs of a gas leak so that you can continue to have a safe and healthy home.

Joel Wensley is a licensed mechanical contractor in the state of Michigan, a WJBK-TV Fox2 Detroit news contributor and president of Mechanical Heating & Cooling in Dearborn Heights.