They say that most accidents occur at home, and looking at the ‘accident’ next door’s cat left on our lawn only this morning, I can agree. One of the foremost safety concerns in most households though should be potential gas leaks.
I’m probably not the best person to give advice on such matters though if my last experience is anything to go by. One night, having moved a heavy ottoman, I nudged it too far and hit a radiator. Straightaway, an audible hissing could be heard, and soon after, a strong, intoxicating smell could be discerned.
Looking all over the radiator, the problem couldn’t be spotted, and after nearly half an hour, we began to panic. Windows were opened, and we turned the gas off outside. On returning, the hissing sound had stopped, phew! We woke up the stepdaughter (it was around 1am by now), and evacuated the house, waiting outside for the emergency gas call-out bloke to arrive.
Once he’d arrived, I gave it my best ‘bloke’ talk to disguise my ineptitude: “yeah mate, I’ve turned it off at the mains, seems to have done the trick, ‘aven’t got a scooby where it’s coming from though, tried shutting the valve off, ‘ere, you ‘ave a butchas, etc etc.”
The gas man struggled too. He could detect the odd smell, but wasn’t sure that it was gas, and couldn’t find any damage to the radiator either.
Then he lifted the lid off the ottoman, and found a (now empty) canister of the girlfriend’s hairspray wedged against the inside. The answer to the hissing and odd smell was revealed immediately, and whilst the girlfriend had lost the contents of a giant hairspray can, it was I that suffered the greater loss: the loss of man points and any dignity I might have had, as the gas man barely stifled his laughter as he drove off into the night.
That said, I’m happy that we remembered to do the right things in opening windows, shutting off the gas mains, and evacuating the house. Better to be safe (and mildly emasculated) than sorry.
Other tips to remember:
- Though it wouldn’t have helped for my hairspray leak, I’ve since found out that a good way to locate a leak is by rubbing soapy water over areas that have potential leaks and looking for bubbles.
- As father to a fearless, adventurous toddler, I’m all too aware of trying to keep things out of his reach. It pays to be extra vigilant in the kitchen though, where inquisitive little mitts can nudge gas knobs on ovens and hobs. If left on, a silent build-up of gas can cause the turning on of a light switch to be catastrophic.
- Worth considering that this can also be an issue for those with sight problems. It’s not always easy for some people to see when it has been turned off properly after cooking. Ditto for cylinder nozzles on barbecues if the drinks have been flowing at your summer parties!
- Try not to store gas cylinders under your stairs, if the worst were ever to happen and there was a house fire, one of your potential escape routes could go up with a bang!
An eBook collating domestic gas safety tips from a variety of sources is being compiled by UK gas supplier Flogas, I doubt anything on hairspray storage will be in there, but it’ll definitely be worth a look for those who use gas around the home, which is most of us! I’ll be sure to post a link once it’s available to download.