Natural Gas Safety

Natural gas is an odorless, non-toxic gas used to fuel many common household appliances. Under certain conditions, leaking gas can cause a fire or explosion.

SWL&P adds a non-toxic, non-flammable odorant called mercaptan to our natural gas. This foul smelling chemical produces a "rotten egg" odor, which allows you to smell natural gas, helps alarm you to a gas leak. Here are some tips to help prevent gas leaks and accidents:

Stay safe in your home

  • Your home should have at least one smoke detector on each floor.
  • If you use natural gas or LP gas (liquefied petroleum, or propane) you should have at least one battery operated CO detector in the bedroom area.

Stay safe in your kitchen

  • Never use a stove or oven to heat your home.
  • Keep combustibles away from heat sources.
  • Every kitchen needs a fire extinguisher.

Stay safe in your laundry room

  • Keep filters and exhausts cleaned and properly vented.
  • Check vents regularly for blockage.

Stay safe in your utility room or basement

  • Don't store flammable liquids near the furnace or gas water heater.
  • Keep the area around the water heater free of clutter.
  • To prevent scalding, set water heat no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Have your furnace inspected every year and keep the filter clean.
  • Never hang things from utility pipes.
  • Keep combustibles away from heat sources.

Stay safe in your garage

  • Keep your garage clean.
  • Cars, lawn mowers, gas powered generators and barbecue grills produce CO when working properly…never use them indoors or in the garage with the door closed.

Stay safe in your family room

  • Only use these things when an adult is home.
  • Follow the space heater's instructions carefully and use with proper ventilation.
  • Keep the area clean.

Stay safe outside your home

  • Stay away from LP tanks, meters and hookups.
  • Natural gas delivered through a network of underground pipelines; locate them on your property before you dig by calling 811.

Natural Gas Excess Flow Valves and Eligibility

Superior Water, Light, & Power’s residential, multi-family, and small commercial customers may request installation of an excess flow valve (EFV) on their natural gas service lines. A new federal regulation has expanded the use of these safety devices, which have been installed on new or replacement services lines for the past several years.

An EFV is a safety device installed on the natural gas service line near our underground main pipeline. The purpose of the valve is to shut off the flow of natural gas in the event of a gas service line break. These would typically be caused by excavation activities on private property

Under the new federal regulation, any customer can request an EFV. Not all existing service lines can be retrofitted to accommodate an EFV. For residential customers, the pressure of the gas system in their area would be the determining factor. For commercial customers, the main determining factor is the amount of natural gas the customer uses.

The average customer cost for an excess flow valve is approximately $1,600, but the actual cost may vary due to installation conditions.

Please call Superior Water, Light, & Power at 715-394-2200 to speak with a Superior Water, Light, & Power representative if you are interested in an excess flow valve. We will determine if your existing service line qualifies for the installation of an EFV.

A gas leak can cause:

  • Hissing noises
  • Unusual odor indoor or near the pipeline
  • Bubbling in wet or flooded areas
  • Dirt being blown into the air
  • Dead or discolored vegetation near an underground pipeline
  • Abnormally dry or hardened soil
  • Fire or explosion near pipeline

If you suspect a leak:

  • EVACUATE the building or area.
  • DO NOT use cell phones or anything electrical.
  • DO NOT STRAT UP or shut down any vehicles or machinery.
  • DO NOT light a match or any ignition source.
  • MOVE upwind.
  • DO NOT attempt to control a leak.
  • If the gas is burning, let it.
  • WARN others to stay clear.

Snow and ice can damage gas meters and pipes. Use a broom to keep gas service equipment clear during the winter. Chimneys and vents for gas appliances must be cleared following a major snow or ice storm to enable proper venting and prevent carbon monoxide accumulation.

Call 8-1-1 before you dig.

A damaged gas pipeline or service to a house may create an explosion hazard resulting in injury and death, severe property damage, and loss of vital service. If you are planning a project that involves digging, trenching, drilling, grading or excavation:

  • Call before you dig
  • Wait the required time
  • Respect the marks
  • Conduct a site survey
  • Have an emergency plan
  • Dig with care

All gas pipes downstream of the gas meter (the building side) belong to the property owner. They are responsible for maintenance and operation of this portion of the fuel line system.

  • Home/property owners should be aware of buried fuel lines on their property.
  • Buried gas piping should be, regularly checked for safety and inspected for leaks by a qualified technician, periodically inspected for corrosion if the piping is metallic; repaired if any unsafe condition is discovered or the flow of gas should be shut off.
  • When planning to excavate, the piping should be located and marked in advance of plans to excavate. Excavating performed neare the pipe should be done by hand.

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

It is important to be aware of the symptoms of CO poisoning. Symptoms can occur immediately or more gradually after long-term exposure. Common symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Fainting

If you have these symptoms after being in an enclosed area, get fresh air immediately and go to a hospital emergency department. Be sure to tell your doctor that you may have carbon monoxide poisoning. Call a qualified technician to check your fuel-burning appliances.

Gas space heaters are a safe way to heat if they are used properly, installed by a qualified professional and maintained correctly.

  • Always have your gas heater and venting system professionally installed and inspected according to local codes.
  • Do not re-install used space heaters.
  • Keep gasoline, flammable liquids, and other combustible materials away from appliances and other sources of ignition.

Gasoline and other flammable liquids should never be used indoors, and should be stored in an approved container, away from children.

  • Keep gasoline and other flammable liquids away from children.
  • Gasoline is a motor fuel. Never use it as a cleaner.
  • Never use gasoline or other flammable liquids indoors or in the same room or area as a gas appliance or other ignition source.
  • Keep gasoline ONLY in an approved gasoline container. Make sure the container is tightly sealed. Never store gasoline in plastic milk jugs or glass containers.
  • Never fill gasoline containers to the top. Allow room for vapor expansion.
  • Store gasoline in a safe container on a high shelf, in a cool place, away from the house.
  • Talk to your children about the dangers of flammable liquids products.

Make sure your water heater is set to a safe temperature. Check the water temperature before placing a child in the bathtub; never leave a child alone or with other young children in the bathtub.

Gas connectors need to be inspected regularly, and replaced as needed. Certain kinds of flexible connectors manufactured between 1970 and 1980 may fail over time and need to be replaced.

  • Only a qualified professional should check your connector and replace it if needed. Don’t try to do this yourself.
  • After disconnecting gas appliances, gas connectors should always be removed and the fuel line should be purged and capped.
  • Gas pipes should be properly maintained and never used for unintended uses such as hanging clothes.

Disasters can occur anytime and anywhere. You can protect your family and property by being aware of the hazards and preparing for them. Follow a disaster; know what to do and what not to do in order to minimize risk and damage.

  • Prepare and practice a disaster plan for your family.
  • Make sure gas appliances are secured to wall studs or bolted to the floor as appropriate in earthquake prone areas.
  • Defective gas connections should be inspected and repaired by a qualified technician.
  • Store flammable products securely in closed cabinets and latches and away from appliances.
  • Know how to turn off the main gas service at the meter instructed to do so.
  • Never turn gas service back on yourself, have it done by a professional.
  • After a disaster, check for the odor of gas before entering any area. If gas is detected, leave immediately and call the gas utility from another location.
  • Replace any appliance that has been submerged in water.

You may also wish to refer to FEMA (www.fema.gov) or the department of HOMELAND Security (www.ready.gov) for more information.

Related Links

Emergency Responder Training