Emergency medical personnel, fire fighters or police officers are often the first to arrive at an accident scene or emergency. These first responders are most likely to encounter the potential hazards of natural gas facilities. As a first responder, doing your job successfully while protecting yourself and members of the public means you need to understand the hazards that may exist in any emergency situation.
In an effort to help educate first responders so that they can perform their jobs safely and effectively, Liberty provides valuable information on responding to emergencies that may involve natural gas or electrical facilities.
Responding to an Electrical Emergency
- Downed Lines – An ice storm, windstorm, tornado, forest fire or flood can bring down power lines. A car accident also may snap a utility pole and drop a power line. If you see a downed power line, or any other wire, don't assume that it is insulated or “dead”. Stay at least 10 feet away from the wire and secure the area to keep others away, too. Remember that electricity can pass from an energized source through a victim. If a rescuer touches the victim, the rescuer also can become a victim.
- Notify the Utility – Contact the local utility and have trained personnel respond to the scene. Never attempt to handle wires yourself unless you are properly trained and equipped.
- Control Traffic – If possible, set out flares and stop or reroute traffic. Keep spectators away (at least 100 feet). After dark, light the scene as well as you can by directing headlights or spotlights on the broken or fallen wires. Metal or cable guard-rails, steel fences and telephone lines all may be energized by a fallen wire.
- Protect Yourself – During any rescue attempt, never rely on rubber boots, raincoats, rubber gloves or ordinary wire cutters for protection from electricity. Don't touch (or allow your clothing to contact) a wire, victim or vehicle that may be energized.
Responding to a Natural Gas Emergency
The most important thing at these sites is to watch for leaks. Although leaks on natural gas pipelines are rare, stay alert for dirt or water being ejected in the air; dead or dying vegetation (in an otherwise normal area) over or near pipeline areas; flames coming from the ground or appearing to burn just above the ground; a roaring, blowing or hissing sound near a pipeline; or the distinct odor of natural gas.
If You Smell Gas:
- Do not attempt to locate gas leaks.
- Do not remain in any building when there is a strong gas odor.
- Avoid sparks: do not operate any electrical switches, appliances, or lights, or unplug electrical appliances when there is a strong gas odor.
- Do not use telephones or elevators in the area of a strong gas odor.
- Do not position or operate vehicles and power equipment where leaking gas may be present.
- Do not smoke or use lighters, matches or other open flames.