Safety share: Natural gas safety in your backyard
Spring is in the air, and as we look at our backyards for the best places to plant shrubs, flowers or vegetables, or to build that new shed, we need to be mindful of the various utilities that may lie underground.
How to locate buried utilities
Call 811 (or 1-800-892-0123) — as required by Illinois law — at least two working days prior to digging to make use of a free service, the Joint Utility Locating & Information for Excavators (JULIE). JULIE will locate your utilities and mark them using the colors shown in Figure 1 to indicate different utility service lines or areas where work will occur (e.g., excavations, surveys). This way, you can take safety precautions if digging near a gas service line or other utility line.
Keep an eye out
Even if planting flowers and/or building a shed are not on your agenda this year, nevertheless, walk around your yard and look for these signs of a natural gas leak near known gas service lines:
- Dying or dead vegetation
- Blowing dirt
- Bubbling water
- Air that smells like rotten eggs – that is mercaptan, the odorant added to natural gas
Additionally, inspect gas service lines in your yard for corrosion that may lead to a gas leak. Typically, the homeowner is responsible for maintaining gas service lines running from the gas meter. Examples are lines that run to the:
- Hot tub
- Outdoor fireplace
- Outdoor lights
- Out buildings
What to do if you find a problem
- If you suspect a gas leak, safely exit the area, call your utility, and keep others from approaching the area, as well.
- If you find corrosion on service lines, call a corrosion-control company or heating company to treat or replace the line before a natural gas leak occurs.
Additional information is available in this safety share, courtesy of Laura Guest (AQO). Please print and share this information to help kick off your next meeting with colleagues and/or staff.
Each month a safety share submitted by an individual will be selected to receive a Spot Award for demonstrated safety leadership. The Spot Award program offers three award levels: gold ($100), silver ($50) and bronze ($25).