June 28, 2017

What Would You Do if You Had a Gas Leak?

Its 10:00pm on a February night and the temperature is in the teens. You turn on the oven to make a snack and a few minutes later you come back in the kitchen to the smell of gas. You crack the oven door and a small fireball shoots out. You quickly shut the door and turn off the gas.

This recently happened to us. My stepson was the one getting a snack. He told us what had happened, so I went to the kitchen. There was a smell of gas, but it seemed to be dissipating to me. Trudee didn’t think so and called the gas company.

They said we should evacuate the house immediately, explaining not to turn on or off any switches, not to even hang up the phone, and they would send someone out as soon as possible. The gas didn’t smell very strong to me so I didn’t think it was that big of a dead, but those are probably famous last words. The three of us and the four dogs bugged out.

I always thought I would have some kind of warning, and at least a few minutes to get the car packed, but that’s not the way it went down. We put on our coats, grabbed the keys, and jumped in the truck, where we sat at the end of the driveway, waiting for the service man.

We had one BOB in the truck, a couple blankets and some cash, with access to my BOB in my car, which was in the garage and my stepson’s BOB, which was in the driveway. That’s it! I really didn’t think we would be forced to stay out of the house, but I kept thinking, “what if we can’t go back in?”

We have the basics in our BOBs. I don’t know about you, but I want more than the basics to get by if I’m not in a survival situation. I was so focused on getting leashes on the dogs and all of us dressed and outside as safely and as quickly as possible, that I forgot to grab my money clip. We did have some cash, so if we needed to we could have bought some short term supplies.

The gasman showed up and said his meter was pegged in the kitchen when he walked in. He opened the oven and discovered our issue. Trudee had very recently inserted a cover to catch oven gunk, and it turns out it was covering a vent she hadn’t noticed, causing gas to build up and cause carbon monoxide and gas fumes to flood the kitchen.

This little event exposed some normalcy bias I didn’t know I had. I expected to have time to load up before bugging out. This just goes to show you that we all have opinions on how this or that will go down, but the truth is, we never know exactly what, or how things will happen!

Do you have some normalcy bias that needs to be put in check?
What Would You Do?

Put yourself in my position and think about what you would do. Had I done that previously, I would have thought I would have done better than I did. This just goes to show that theory is great, but simply can’t replace application and practice!

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  1. I would start opening windows then go outside and shut the gas off at the meter. Then everyone would get in the car and move two houses down the street and wait for the utility people to show up.

  2. Mic Roland says:

    So, based on your experience in this gas leak trial run of Bugging Out, what have you decided to change?

    • Chris Ray says:

      First thing is have a plan for immediate bug out. What I didn’t get into in the article was how long it took us to get the dogs leashed and get all of us outside. My 20 year old was taking his sweet time, and I actually had to “encourage” him to move now. I would also grab the bag from my car, and have my son grab his on the way out.

  3. Theresa Streight says:

    Chris , I am so happy you all were safe & smart to leave the house until safe to return….Not only can I tell u what I would have done in your situation, but my husband & I actually lived through a gas furnace exposion Feb. 8, 2013…the most frightening day of my life..We had been having problems with our furnace (20+ years old) and we called the heating man…he came and replaced a valve but also told us we need to think about a new furnace…after he left , my husband being an elecrician, was watching him repair it, so after the guy left , Rick looked over his work and then came upstairs to let me know all is well….as soon as he said that the house shook with a boom….the furnace blew our basement door window clean out to the yard….smoke all through the basement…we called 911 and they immediately told us to get out of the house, to not even turn any light switches on….unfortuantely with cats they don’t always come when u call them…they were hiding in closet and under the bed (3 cats)….5 fire companies came and several pollice cars..while Rick waited outside for their arrival I got int he car and stayed up the street…by the way, it was 15 degrees out with snow…andI had nothing to take with except my handbag…there was never a fire just smoke and 55,000 in damgages….the fire inspector told us in his 30 years of inspecting he has never came across an explosion like this or even a furnace exploding…we are christians and knew that it was only by God’s protection that no one was killed or injured or spread to the other homes in our development….since then I have been an advocate for bug out bags and disaster preparation..i know how several ‘grab’ bags, cash on hand, and always a full tank of gas ready to go..as a christian I struggled with preparing for the worse and not trusting on the Lord, until I came across your Prepared Christian Prepper and downloaded it…there are lots of prepper sites, but only yours seems to be the most balanced…no underground bunker in a development….no money for buying extra land for bug out..we must depend upon each other for support..I have a place to go to if the need arises and vice versa….so that is the short form of my experience with gas disasters…it has been 2 years now and I am still shook up about it…I want to move but at our ages,, 61 & 68 with my husband’s cancer problems, he does not want to do that…likes his docs…so I ahve been doing all I can to be ready for disasters and even share with others on my FB wall to always be prepared even for foul weather…I now have my own garden and do my own freezign and canning…we do have a generator for emergencies…thank u for allowiing me to vent this scary situation…God bless u on your ministry of preparations in a Godly way..

    • Chris Ray says:

      oh my goodness. So glad you all were alright, you’re right, God is the only explanation. I pray your husband goes into remission and is healed by our Lord.

      I appreciate the encouragement, more than you know.

  4. Every kitchen gas range should have a gas valve where gas line connects to the house supply line. That should be within easy reach and should be turned off immediately upon smelling gas. Second, the main gas line valve outside the house should be turned off and windows near the smell of gas should be opened to air out the house. Then call the gas company for their instructions…probably to evacuate.
    If you’re going to have a BOB or emergency kit, make sure it has everything in it already so you don’t have to be wandering around at night trying to think of anything extra you need. Plan, plan, plan; execute, execute, execute! You are right. We never know what time will be available to us in an emergency. Additionally, a house emergency kit should be maintained where it is easily accessed from outside, i.e., the garage or just inside the house in the hall closet. If you have children or elderly people in the house make sure that all emergency kits and BOBs include all their needs. If you have two or more vehicles and it isn’t feasible to move your emergency supplies from one to the other for each use, maintain a separate emergency bag or BOB for each. Please to remember to cycle your emergency items in the vehicles to match the season. That means extra coats and blankets in the winter months and plenty of water and snacks year-round.
    In conclusion, just make sure all your plans have been tested and practiced regularly so you’re not in a panic mode when the emergency occurs. Practice regularly with all household residents so you can act calmly and not have to react to the unexpected!

    • Chris Ray says:

      For me to turn off the gas valve it would mean dragging the stove far enough away from the wall to get behind it and turn it off, so that isn’t an option in this situation.

  5. Always have a wrench outside to easily turn off the gas meter.

  6. Chris,
    Good article. I hate those “eye openers” but so much better to have them come to nothing.

    I have always had multiple pets and have seen how fast fires move, so I actually keep a “comfortable camping/hotel hurricane evac” kit in my truck along with what would be considered BOB(s).

    It’s also set up so that if we’re away from home and just aren’t allowed back in, and I need to be Sneaky Squirrel just to get my pets outside a perimeter, we’re straight.

    You’ve got some exhaustive lists of BOB supplies here and there on the site, but some of the biggies for me are:
    – Thumb drive & hardcopies of insurance, account #s, official birth certificate copies, and “Missing” posters for pets and people
    – HARD COPIES OF CONTACT INFORMATION for people and companies
    – Cash + valuable + the mini key-ring swipe cards that come with my debit card now
    – 3-10 days of meds for pets/people who need them, allergy to pain to heart stuff (insulin excepted) + copies of the existing prescriptions for those (and the insulin)
    – Digital and limited hardcopy pics of favorite photos, but also the pics of belongings in the home for insurance purposes

    A fair amount of that information stays on thumb drives that I pocket or clip inside a waistband even to walk the dogs, even just to run outside with them.
    I have it even away from my bag or if something happens at work, at school, the house burns down while we’re working or I only have time to grab one thing out of the house (that one thing is going to have a heartbeat or it’s going to be something sentimental – I like having that comfort).

    We have similar copies of most of those items (not the credit card minis, or the medication) in a safe deposit box, with a buddy in the same general area, and with two friends 3+ and 12+ hours away. Cell chargers and one set of HAM gear stay in the most-used vehicles. As soon as we can make contact, they can start helping us, too, at whatever level we need it, even if our region is in blackout or we’re at a campground for pets.

    While in your case, you got to go home (and quickly, thankfully) think of the number of evacs we’ve seen in recent years due to a train or plant going up, and how easy it might have been for a spark to catch.

    As you’ve mentioned a hundred times, it doesn’t have to be a world or nation ender that forces us to fall back on our preparedness. It doesn’t even have to be local or regional to make us grateful or rethink.

    Glad it wasn’t a major deal!

  7. The Gasman Speaks:

    If you smell ordorized natural gas inside the structure EVACUATE IMMEDIATELY!!! Do not investigate the gas leak yourself. Dial 911 and get out. Do not attempt to open windows that in itself could cause a flash, fire, or explosion.

    Natural gas ignites between 4.5% – 14.5% gas to air. Natural gas is lighter than air. it will rise to the highest point inside structure then slowly fall. Do not turn on or off light switches, attic fans, ceiling fans, operate garage door openers, door bells…just get out!

    I am a certified fire investigator for a local gas company with 42 years of service. I
    have investigated many natural gas explosions some fatal but all with injuries.

    Don’t waste time, get out and don’t go back in. Dial 911!!!

    If you need more info, just ask!

  8. Just couldn’t help myself…

  9. Margaret says:

    So glad your story had a happy ending. Caring and looking for pets is a real challenge.
    During the summer, things left in a closed vehicle can get so hot and spoil, I had tealights and a small lantern in a winter prep bag, but the candles quickly melted once the temps increased. Perhaps a bag in the truck with, “non perishables,” and another close to the exit??? Any further advice?

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