Friday, January 29, 2016

Quick action prevents potential disaster

Jason Fisher (left) honored by Supervisor Joel Torkilsen.
It was a normal start of the work day for Jason Fisher, gas lead utility employee in our Wautoma office. He was driving down the highway on his way to the office when he smelled something he is trained to recognize … mercaptan, an odorant added to natural gas that smells like rotten eggs.

Fisher was surprised the smell was so strong. He was traveling on a busy four-lane highway with his windows rolled up. He stopped his vehicle at the nearest property and began to investigate.

His sensor alerted him right away that there was a problem at the property. He was able to determine that the home was vacant. He contacted his supervisor as well as the local authorities right away to say the home was filled with natural gas at very dangerous levels.

Fisher and his co-workers were able to shut off the natural gas to the home quickly, while authorities vented the interior of the property. The highway was shut down in both directions as a precaution.

Joel Torkilsen, operations supervisor, says that Fisher did a great job and did what he was supposed to do: “He took action; that’s the key. How many other people drove by and didn’t stop or call to alert someone of the smell?”

“I don’t think I did anything out of the ordinary,” said Fisher. “I smelled gas and stopped to investigate it. It was that simple.”

Fisher was honored by the company for his actions.

What should you do if you smell that “rotten egg” smell?

Gas leak, odor or emergency
Natural gas is colorless and odorless until we add mercaptan, a rotten-egg odor to help detect leaks. If you smell natural gas or have a natural gas emergency:
  • Leave immediately – do not turn on light switches or use phone.
  • Call 800-261-5325 from another location.
Safety tips
Natural gas is safe when properly used. Follow these tips to prevent accidents:
  • Never use your oven or range as a space heater.
  • Have a qualified contractor inspect your furnace, vents, connections and chimneys for corrosion and blockages at least every other year.
  • Keep the area around your furnace and water heater clean and free from litter. Clean or replace air filters in your heating system annually.
  • Keep chimney flues and appliance vents clean and in good repair.
  • Vent gas space heaters to outside. Never sleep in a room with an unvented gas or kerosene heater.
  • Make sure your range top is clean. Wash burners with water and mild detergent.
  • Gas range flamed should be crisp, quiet and blue. Yellow flame indicates need for adjustment.
  • Make sure water heater air intakes, drain pipes, controls and flues are unobstructed.
  • Keep your natural gas meter free of debris, snow, ice and other obstructions at all times.

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