Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Gas emergency. Who knew we lived life on the edge?

It's not the kind I'm sure you're thinking, what with all the pregnancy details I've fed you.

We have a gas stove, and every once in a while since we moved in six weeks ago, I've been sure I smelled gas. But not every day. And Nick didn't smell it, so I thought I was being hyper-sensitive.

So finally Nick smelled it. And as we're having a plumber come out to deal with some of the other endless house stuff, he figured he'd ask him about the stove.

Which is when the plumber said to call Washington Gas. Call them now! And tell them about our possible gas leak!

So I did.

It turns out that when you report a gas smell, it is a Gas Emergency.

The woman asked me for details. Had I evacuated the area?

Evacuated?! Well, sort of. I said I was at work.

She said they'd have their gas emergency crew respond to this as soon as possible.

They don't mess around.

She asked "Can you be home?"

"You mean today?" I figured if we could schedule it for late in the day, I could just leave a bit early.

"As soon as possible. If they arrive and you aren't there, and they can't turn off your gas outside, they'll have to force entry."

"Force entry?"

They will break down your door to get in.

So I said I'd get home as soon as possible, but it could take me an hour. And if they got there and couldn't get in, could they just call me?

No. They cannot call you.

Why not? She did not know.

So I asked her please, please to tell them not to break down my door within the hour. That I'd get home as soon as I could.

"OK. Don't turn on any lights. Don't use your cell phone."

Anything, anything can ignite a spark. Which, if there's gas in the house, can cause an explosion.


So. The Gas Emergency Man pulled up in the Gas Emergency Van just after I got home.

He identified the source of the leak. He turned off the gas line into the stove. He hung a big WARNING! tag on the now non-functional stove.

I asked if he'd ever broken anyone's door down. He said, very seriously, that the Fire Department breaks the doors for them.

The whole six weeks we've lived there, we've been flicking lights on and off, using computers, chatting on the phone.

We had no idea we'd been skirting the danger line.


  1. a woman's sense of smell is 10x as sensitive as a man's. just another reason they need us.

    glad you're safe!

  2. wow! I had no idea! Mine is typically terrible, and my nose is stuffed up so much in pregnancy so I tend to rely on other people's.

    I just could not imagine it being all actually that drastic. Obviously, I didn't want our door broken. But I did kind of like the idea of all the firemen and drama.:)

  3. I'm glad you're safe, but was hoping desperately, for your sake, that you were, ya know. Rushing off to have a baby, not to protect your door from Certain Splinteration.

    Also, seeing the phrase "Gas Emergency" in italics makes me giggle, because I am twelve.

  4. Oh, Dag. I got a couple emails asking if I'd gone off to have the kid and that was why I hadn't posted yet.

    I wish.

    And because I too am about twelve, it also makes me snicker.

  5. When I saw the title, I thought to myself, yeah, life with my husband is a gas emergency every day, and lately I'm definitely contributing my fair share as well. Every time The Joey moves, she kicks me in the intestine and sets off a chain reaction.

    But now I'm all alarmed for you. Thank goodness nothing awful happened!

  6. Whoa. Phones can spark? Another reason I hate those damn things.

  7. Dang! Glad you all are ok though!

  8. I just assumed you ran out of gas on your way to somewhere!

    Gas leak is definitely serious business... I had one at my apt, but turned out that it was just the pilot light on my old ass stove had gone off, so my dad found the cause before I had to call off a gas emergency (and apparently the pilot light doesn't leak that much gas into the air, considering I'm still here).

  9. So glad you are safe! Yikes! We had a gas emergency this summer, the day wood floors were installed. We turned on the gas oven, the toxins in the air from the glue began burning and it smells just like a gas leak. Since people had been hammering near the gas fireplace all day - I called. Luke didn't want to call, he thought it was nothing and figured we'd have to pay if it weren't. Gas company sent someone "right away", 2 hours later me, husband and dog were "evacuated" out on the curb as the Emergency gas man showed up and confirmed there wasn't a leak but no charge for checking. He said it happens a lot with wood floors.

    Sorry - really long comment but I was stressed to tears over my house being under construction and the thought of an explosion.

  10. I had a similar situation last August. We were remodeling the kitchen of the house we had just bought, and during the cooktop install the appliance techs from our very reputable appliance store skipped a step, didn't "soap" the gas valve, and two days later the whole main floor of the house was filled with "eau du natural gas". No wonder I was so tired I had to take a nap on our plastic-wrapped mattress!

    Before I realized there was a gas leak, I had tried to light a burner in order to make some soup. I called the appliance sales rep and told him "the burners won't ignite and I smell gas". His reply message: "Kate, you can just light it using a match." RIGHT. GREAT IDEA.

  11. Count me as one of the readers that thought you had gone into labor.

    So does this mean you get a new stove? Pretty, shiny and never been cooked on?

  12. Wendy - Hahahaha! I know - I have been a walking gas emergency myself. But this one was legit!

    And yes, now I'm so relieved. When I didn't even know I had to worry about anything.

    Lemmonex - She said not to turn anything on or off. I guess no shift in energy either way. And yah, she said cell phones.

    Marie - Thank you! We've been using that stove almost daily, thinking nothing of it. Duh.

    Beach Bum - I hate being low on gas - makes me so twitchy.

    A friend of mine looked at the pilot light when I first thought I smelled it. It wouldn't have occurred to me.

    HKW - I would've been stressed to tears as well. And all those toxins from the glue must've been terrible for you - good thing you were all evacuated outside anyway.
    And yah, when people start talking explosions, it's so scary.

    Wahkonamama - That's a terrifying story. So scary. I'm so glad that you were OK. Thank goodness you didn't just light a match! Agh!

    Susan - I will definitely post something or have Nick post when I do.

    And at the moment I really, really hope not. It's one more expense I want to not have. The plumber comes tomorrow and can hopefully fix it.

  13. Holy Cow!! That's wicked scary.

  14. Scary stuff. A couple months ago, our CO2/explosive gas detector went off in the middle of the night. We eventually learned that it was the sensor itself that was defective. Unfortunately, I'll never get that night of lost sleep back.

  15. Glad nothing happened. And really, ain't it about time?

  16. way to freak people out public works gas lady.
    she sounds all kinds of scary and urgent.
    i guess my favorite part is that she made sure you evacuated the area and then asked you to be there... um, okay

  17. So of course, I was reading your posts from top to bottom in my reader. Having just now read your post from earlier today, I suddenly realize how lame my comment appears to be.

  18. Holy Schnockeroonies! You guys lucked out big time! Glad you found it before anyone got hurt!!

  19. JoLee - She really scared me...but it's so hard to believe it's that huge a deal!

    diatribes and dish - No, you won't. I would've been verging on hysteria, I am certain.

    restaurant refugee - I always read posts top to bottom, so I totally get it.

    And yes! About time!!!

    notsojenny - I suppose there are things you're supposed to say, you know? But yah, she conveyed this sense of urgency to me that I completely did not expect. And it is kind of funny when you put it that way.

    Jules - Ha! Holy Schnockeroonies! is a very good way to put it.:)

  20. This happened to me at my old apartment. turn out not to be a leak, but the gas lady was O SO SERIOUS.

    I really think today or tomorrow is the day for the baby as 3 of my coworkers (or their kids) have popped out babies today. The full moon must be right!

  21. That happened to me in college. I smelled gas in my apartment and had to call it in. They also freaked out and told me I shouldn't be using the phone, etc. They ran over immediately. I lived in an older building so they had to shut off the gas to the entire apartment building. Our apartment had gas heat and a gas stove. To top it off, it was a freezing cold day in Minnesota on Super Bowl Sunday. My apartment was very popular after that day. lol.

  22. Yikes! I'm glad that you're OK. I never would have thought it would be such a huge deal - I usually just ignore things like that and hope they go away. I guess I'll stop doing that!

  23. I hope they were overreacting, just because the idea that they weren't is far too scary...

    SO glad you nipped that in the bud!


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