Many of us use natural gas and propane to cook, dry our clothes, and heat our homes and showers. Each year, however, there are a number of cases in which a leak results in a dangerous accumulation of gas. When this happens, it only takes a spark to cause an explosion with potentially severe, even fatal consequences. If the gas collects in high enough quantities, an explosion can disintegrate one or more homes or buildings in the process.
Because of the dangers of natural gas and propane, we rely on gas company employees and other professionals to safely install and maintain gas-fuelled equipment. Unfortunately, natural gas leaks that result in explosions sometimes occur due to flawed workmanship when gas products are installed or maintained. Other times, a gas accumulation may be due to a defective product such as a defective clothes dryer, water heater or propane tank. An explosion may also happen due to a leak in the gas pipeline that feeds gas to the home or through defective “Cobra” valves or gas control valves.
You should have your furnace and other gas appliances inspected every year to minimize the chances of a gas leak. But if you ever smell a “rotten egg” or sulfur-like odor in your or someone else’s home, you should take immediate safety precautions. The odor is likely that of mercaptan, which gas companies add to natural gas so it can be detected (natural gas is invisible and has no odor of its own). If you smell mercaptan, take the following steps to minimize the risk of a natural gas explosion:
- Alert others and leave immediately.
- Do not turn on a light, light a match nor switch on anything electrical.
- Do not use your phone.
- Call your gas company from your neighbor's house or another location.
- Let the gas company representative know where you are so you can let them in your house when they arrive.
Gas explosions are often preventable tragedies that cause pain and anger to the victims and their loved ones. If you who or a loved one has been injured or killed in a gas explosion at home, you should consult with an attorney with the expertise and resources to investigate the source of the gas leak and its causes. Damage awards in gas explosion cases can include payment for medical bills including those for physical and mental therapy to recover from burn injuries, compensation for pain and suffering as well as property damages and current and future lost wages.
While no amount of compensation will make up for you or your loved one’s loss or injuries resulting from a gas explosion, a large verdict or settlement helps make professionals we rely on for our safety accountable for their actions. Please search our directory of attorneys for an experienced gas explosion attorney.