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Can You Die From A Gas Leak? What Elderly Should Know

Yes, you can die from a gas leak. They can be deadly. Inhaling gas can cause asphyxiation, which can lead to death. Gas leaks can also cause explosions, which can kill or injure you and family members. If you suspect a gas leak, it is important to evacuate the area immediately and call your utility company or 911.

Even a slow gas leak can quickly fill up a room with carbon monoxide and kill anyone inside.

We strongly recommend installing carbon monoxide alarms (gas leak detector) on each floor of your home. Take a look at the Kidde Nighthawk product here – many of our readers have purchased this.

If you suspect a gas leak, do not flip any switches or use any electrical appliances. Instead, leave the area immediately and call your gas company or 911.

We’re going to repeat this warning throughout this article because it’s extremely important!

Note: You should always maintain a safe distance from potential sources of carbon monoxide. so when you leave your home walk a few houses away.

Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is preventable, yet it remains one of the most common causes of poisoning in the U.S. In the absence of a national data reporting system for CO-poisoning surveillance, the burden of CO-related hospitalizations is unknown.

National Library of Medicine

What Are The Signs Of A Gas Leak?

The first sign of a gas leak is usually an unusual smell. Natural gas is odorless but most utility companies add a rotten egg smell to it so that leaks can be detected.

If you smell this odor, leave the area immediately and do not turn any electrical switches on or off, or use anything electrical.

According to Constellation (a natural gas provider), the symptoms of a natural gas leak include:

  • whistling or hissing sound near a gas line
  • dirt or water being blown into the air
  • areas of dead or dying vegetation or plants inside or outside the home
  • bubbling in puddles, mud, ponds or streams near or around the home
  • A higher than normal gas usage

If you see any of these signs, you should leave the area immediately and call 911.

What Does A Gas Leak Smell Like?

Natural gas itself is actually odorless so if you had a leak, you wouldn’t be able to detect it. Which of course can be very dangerous.

So, utility companies add a chemical called Mercaptan. This gives natural gas a pretty distinct smell of rotten eggs, sewage or sulfur. Most people would be able to smell and identify that.

But note that seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease have impaired senses and that includes smell.

In a study of 113 adults testing olfactory functions and published in the National Library of Medicine, the conclusion was that the “…results suggest that ageing and mild AD (Alzheimer’s Disease) may reduce the ability to identify odours and judge situations based on odours.

This makes it even more dangerous for elderly people if there’s a gas leak as they may not be able to smell it.

How Does Carbon Monoxide Exposure Happen?

Carbon monoxide exposure can happen when gas burns incompletely.

This can happen when gas appliances are not properly ventilated, when cars are left running in an enclosed space like a garage, or when grills are used indoors.

Most homes with gas stoves are susceptible to carbon monoxide so we strongly recommend that you have a carbon monoxide detector installed on every floor of your house.

Of course, if you have other gas appliances such as a dryer or a fireplace, then there are even more chances of carbon monoxide exposure.

So, keep the appliances like these well maintained to avoid any mishaps.

There is also a chance that the gas leak is coming from your home’s gas pipe.

The rule of thumb when it comes to gas appliance maintenance is to have them inspected once a year.

How Long Does It Take To Get Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen quickly and without warning.

Depending on the level of carbon monoxide present, it could take as little as five minutes or up to several hours before symptoms start appearing.

Concentrations of 200 ppm or higher can cause death within 2 hours.

Asphyxia occurs when your body is deprived of oxygen, and the more carbon monoxide there is present in the air, the less oxygen you’ll be able to inhale, which can potentially kill you.

Lower concentrations can cause symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, and nausea. It can also cause neurological problems such as problems with concentration.

If you or someone you know begins to experience symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, it is important to go to the emergency room immediately.

What Are The Symptoms Of Gas Poisoning?

There are numerous health risks associated with exposure to carbon monoxide, including brain damage and death.

The physical symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can vary depending on the type of gas involved, but generally they may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Headache
  • Overall weakness
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Loss of consciousness

Carbon monoxide poisoning can be particularly dangerous for people who are sleeping or intoxicated. People may have irreversible brain damage or even die before anyone realizes there’s a problem.

If you experience any of these symptoms after being exposed to gas, seek medical attention immediately. You can call 911 or the Poison Control Centers at 800-222-1222.

How Do You Prevent Gas Leaks?

There are several steps you can take as a precautionary measure to prevent gas leaks:

  • Check for gas leaks regularly on all your appliances including gas water heaters. If you smell gas, evacuate the area immediately and call your gas company or 911.
  • Make sure all gas appliances are properly installed and maintained. Yearly inspections are recommended.
  • If you have a gas furnace, make sure to have it serviced regularly to avoid any potential leaks.
  • Keep the outdoor gas meter clear of any trees, plants or shrubs so that it’s easy to access.
  • Do not use gas appliances that are damaged or have been recalled.
  • Update old appliances that do not have a fail-safe device installed.

If you follow these steps, you can help prevent gas leaks and keep your family safe. If you do smell gas or experience symptoms of gas poisoning, evacuate the area immediately and call for help.

Don’t take any chances – gas leaks can be deadly.

Who Do You Call For Gas Appliance Inspections?

For gas appliance inspections, you can contact your gas company or a qualified technician. gas companies will typically have someone come out to inspect your appliances for free.

If you have a gas leak, they will be able to shut off your gas and make the necessary repairs.

Some plumbers can perform gas inspections too. Be sure to ask if they are qualified to do so. You don’t want to take any chances when it comes to gas leaks.

Can You Sleep With A Gas Leak?

It is not safe to sleep in the same room as a gas leak.

The gas could build up and cause an explosion and of course, the danger of carbon monoxide is present.

This is especially important if you smell an odor similar to rotten eggs that could indicate a natural gas leak.

If you think there might be a gas leak, evacuate the premises immediately and call your local gas company or a qualified technician so they can come to inspect the area. Don’t take any chances!

We strongly recommend that if you smell or detect a gas leak, that you leave the house immediately, then call 911.

Can A Gas Leak Kill You In Your Sleep?

Absolutely! A gas leak can indeed kill you in your sleep. In fact, it seems we hear various news reports about this every winter.

This article title from the UK news site, Daily Mail, says it all, “Seven members of same family are killed ‘by gas poisoning’ while sleeping inside their Minnesota home“.

As we’ve been saying, carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can be deadly if it builds up in your home or other enclosed space.

There’s the potential for an explosion or suffocation by asphyxiation.

So if you’re sleeping and don’t know the leak has occurred, then it can be deadly.

It’s important to recognize the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and take steps to prevent a build-up of this toxic gas.

Symptoms include:

  • headache
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • confusion
  • fatigue
  • chest pains

If you experience any of these symptoms while sleeping or upon waking up, it could mean that there is carbon monoxide in the air around you – don’t waste time and call 911 immediately!

It’s also important to have working smoke detectors that are designed to detect carbon monoxide as well as smoke so you’ll know right away if there is a gas leak.

Investing in carbon monoxide alarms and regular maintenance of your appliances are also important steps to prevent this potentially deadly hazard.

Don’t take any chances – make sure you’re taking all the necessary precautions to ensure your safety!

Will A Gas Leak Wake You Up?

This is a tricky question!

Gas leaks can be dangerous and should always be taken seriously. However, it is possible that you may not be woken up by a gas leak if the concentrations are low or if you’re already a heavy sleeper.

If there is an obvious smell of gas in your house or apartment, you’ll definitely want to err on the side of caution and evacuate immediately.

Be sure to call 911 after you are safely out of the residence.

How Long After A Gas Leak Is It Safe?

It is not safe to return to an area that has had a gas leak until the gas company has arrived and determined that it is safe.

The gas company will inspect the area and make sure that the gas leak has been repaired and that the area is ventilated.

But to give you a sense of how much time it may take, it could be anywhere from 15 minutes to a few hours.

How Seniors Can Protect Themselves From A Gas Leak

Everyone should take precautions to protect themselves from a gas leak, but there are some specifics that older adults should be aware of.

  • If you live alone, it’s important to have someone check on you regularly, even if it’s just a neighbor or family member calling to see how you are doing.
  • Keep your gas company’s emergency phone number handy in case you do smell gas.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your house.
  • If you have a gas stove, make sure it is well-ventilated.
  • If you have a carbon monoxide detector, check the batteries regularly and replace them as needed.
  • If you feel sick or lightheaded, get to fresh air immediately and call for help.
  • I would recommend to have a medical alert device with you at all time or an Alexa device in every room in case you can’t get to your phone to call for help.

If you think you may have been poisoned by carbon monoxide, call for emergency medical help right away.

Symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, and confusion.

If you have these symptoms and there is a gas leak in your home, get out immediately and call for help from a safe location.

The Best Carbon Monoxide Detectors For Seniors

When it comes to carbon monoxide detectors, there are a few things you need to consider before making your purchase.

The first is the age of the person who will be using the detector.

If you have an elderly parent or grandparent who will be using the detector, you’ll want to make sure to get a model that is easy to hear and has a low-frequency alarm.

One model we can recommend is the Kidde Carbon Monoxide Alarm. This particular model has LED lights that indicate the alarm is going off. This is a must have in any household where there is a hard of hearing person living there.

Another important consideration is whether the detector is hardwired or battery operated.

Hardwired detectors are more reliable, as they are always plugged into an outlet and will not run out of batteries.

However, battery operated detectors are more portable and can be used in a wider variety of locations.

Finally, you’ll want to decide on the type of detector you want.

There are four main types:

  • gas leak detectors
  • carbon monoxide detectors
  • smoke detectors
  • combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

Each one has its own unique benefits and drawbacks, so you’ll need to decide which one is right for you and your senior loved one.

Gas Leak Detectors

Gas leak detectors are designed to detect leaks in a gas line and appliances.

They are typically more expensive than other types of detectors, but they offer the most accurate results.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Carbon monoxide detectors are designed to detect carbon monoxide gas.

Because this gas is odorless and colorless, it can be difficult to detect without a detector.

Carbon monoxide gas can be deadly, so it’s important to have a detector installed in your home.

Smoke Detectors

Smoke detectors are designed to detect the presence of smoke in your home.

They are typically less expensive than other types of detectors, and they are required by law in many states.

Smoke detectors can save your life in the event of a fire.

Where Should I Put A Carbon Monoxide Detector?

Many people are unsure where to put a carbon monoxide detector in their home.

The best place to install a carbon monoxide detector is near the bedrooms.

This will ensure that you and your family are alerted if there is a carbon monoxide leak in your home.

You can also install carbon monoxide detectors in other areas of your home, such as the basement or near gas-powered appliances.

How Often Should I Test My Carbon Monoxide Detector?

You should test your carbon monoxide detector monthly to ensure that it is working properly. You can do this by pressing the test button on the detector.

It’s also a good idea to replace the batteries in your carbon monoxide detector every six months.

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