“I accidentally left the gas stove on without a flame!”
It can happen to any one of us – accidentally leaving a gas burner on (with or without a flame), leaving the oven on or forgetting to turn off the coffee pot. The key is what do you do if you discover that you made one of these mistakes?
What should you do if you left the gas stove on but there’s no flame? – If you smell gas (which is the smell of rotten eggs), whether you notice a small flame on your gas stove burner or not, immediately turn off all the knobs on your stove. Avoid turning on any lights or creating a flame of any kind. Get everyone out of the house (including pets) and call 911 immediately.
Whether you left your gas stove on without a flame for 30 minutes or 10 minutes or an hour, you should still follow the safety tips we give you in this article.
Therefore, for households of older adults, we highly recommended that you use a combustible gas leak/carbon monoxide detector that is approved by UL or CSA. You can look for ones like the Kidde Code One from Home Depot or the Kidde AC Plug-In version on Amazon.
It’s generally a great tip for any senior who is looking to grow older at home is to have these types of alert devices as well as a smoke detector. Truthfully, it’s a great idea for anyone to have them!
Gas Stove Safety Tips
Below are a list of recommendations and safety precautions / tips to stay as safe as possible if you use a natural gas stove in your home.
- It’s a very good idea to have your gas appliances inspected every year. Some plumbing companies can do this.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector like the ones we mentioned above.
- Use the exhaust vent when using the gas stove.
- Only use pots and pans that cover the entire stove burner. An open flame should never come up the sides of a pot or pan.
- Never use cookware with handles or material that could burn to avoid a fire hazard.
- Keep oven mitts and other items away from the kitchen stove.
- Never cook while wearing dangling jewelry or loose sleeves or scarves or anything that could catch on fire from the stove’s flame.
- Do not leave a gas stove unattended while cooking.
- A smoke alarm should, of course, be installed properly nearby.
- To help keep small children and/or seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s safe we recommend the use of safety knobs on your gas stove.
- After the stove burners have cooled down, wipe off the top of the stove after every use (small food particles can catch on fire).
- Clean each burner cap and the grates of your gas cooktop at least once a week by soaking them in warm soapy water. Use a toothpick to remove any debris in the burner’s holes.
- NEVER pour water on a gas stove fire. If it’s a small fire in a pot, put a lid on the pot and turn off the burner. If it’s a larger fire, you can use a fire extinguisher, a fire suppression blanket, a wet towel or lots and lots of salt or baking soda to put the fire out.
- If you detect a natural gas smell but did not leave your stove on, leave the house immediately. Once outside in the fresh air and at a safe distance away, use your cell phone to contact your local gas company to report the incident.
- Familiarize yourself with the safety manuals that come with your natural gas appliance. If you don’t have the printed manual you can contact the manufacturer or search for it on the Internet.
Is It Dangerous To Leave A Gas Stove On?
Yes – leaving a gas stove on can turn into a very dangerous situation. This is especially true if the gas stove is left unattended – which, by the way, is the most common reason that kitchen fires get started.
Unattended cooking is the leading cause of cooking fires, responsible for one-third of them.Orr Safety
If you arrive home and realize that you’ve left your gas stove on – follow these tips…
- The first thing to so is immediately gather your family and pets (if you have any) and leave the house, then call 911.
- Get to a safe place (a neighbor’s or at least to the other side of the street), then call 911. When the emergency responders arrive they will investigate the home and your gas line
- Do not turn on any type of electric devices (i.e. lights, etc.)
- Do not turn on any type of gas item (i.e. gas fireplace)
- Do not even turn on or off a light switch
- Do not open or close the windows
- You should not even turn the car on in the garage or in your driveway
Can You Die From Leaving The Gas Stove On?
Leaving a gas stove on can kill you several ways…
- the toxic fumes from the carbon monoxide emitted can suffocate you to death
- if the flame on the stove top is burning and something happens to fall on that fire (i.e, an oven mitt) then a fire could erupt and that could be your death
- leaks can occur in the gas lines (whether the stove is on or off) so having a carbon monoxide detector, as we mentioned above, is your best preventative tool
Of course, many cooks will leave a gas stove on while they are simmering a pot of stew or tomato sauce for hours on end while periodically checking the pot. That should be fine as long as the room is well ventilated.
If there is a problem with the carbon monoxide level in your home, your CO detectors should sound the alarm.
But we caution you to NEVER leave a gas stove on unattended (i..e. working in a different room / floor of the home, leaving the gas on overnight, or if you are away from home).
How Long Can You Leave A Gas Stove On?
Your goal should be to never leave your gas stove on if you’re not cooking something. There’s no set “number of hours” that is safe.
The dangers are that carbon monoxide is being emitted which can make you ill or even kill you. The second danger is the risk of fire if a pot of food was left on the stove.
If a pot was left on the burner unattended, eventually whatever was in that pot will either boil over or burn and THAT may end up causing a fire.
A gas oven can produce anywhere from 100 to 800ppm CO when it operates. These levels are within the requirements published in the AHRI standards. Knowing this, it is wise to crack a window open when using a gas oven for an extended period of time – like baking a turkey.Carbonmonoxidemyths.com
The bottom line is PLEASE do not leave a gas stove on unattended!
Do Gas Stoves Turn Off Automatically?
Some gas kitchen ranges do have an automatic shutoff device which turns off the supply of propane to the appliance. I recommend you check with the manual for your particular model or contact the manufacturer.
If your gas stove does not come with an automatic shut off device, you can purchase them separately and install them to keep your family safe.
iGuardStove has a gas stove device with a built in motion detector. It will shut off the gas after it hasn’t detected any movement in the room for 5 minutes.
How Long Does It Take For Natural Gas To Dissipate?
There are two types of natural gas and each one dissipates differently.
- Propane gas dissipates in about 2 hours
- Natural gas dissipates in about 1 hour
Because it takes an hour or two for the gas to dissipate – the safety recommendations are to never turn on any electric device or spark a flame (i.e. light a candle or cigarette) if you are in a house with a possible gas leak. It’s also the reason to leave the house until it has been cleared by the first responders.
How Long Should I Let My House Air Out If I Left My Gas Stove On?
It can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours for the smell of gas to go away. It just depends on how much gas was released and for how long.
If you left your gas stove on and can smell the gas fumes, you would think it would be a great idea to open the windows, but you are wrong!
Don’t open the windows! Once natural gas makes up between 5 to 15 percent of the air in a space, it can ignite. Opening a window adds oxygen and can actually make your kitchen more unsafe than it already is with the gas in it.
What you SHOULD do as I mentioned above is simply to gather your family and pets and leave the house immediately and call 911. After all, they are experienced in gas leaks and fire hazards.
Can Leaving A Gas Stove On Cause Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
Yes, leaving a gas stove on can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. All gas stoves emit carbon monoxide. That’s why it’s recommended to always turn on the exhaust vent when your gas stove is on.
How Long Does It Take To Get Carbon Monoxide Poisoning From A Gas Stove?
The answer to this question depends on the level of concentration of carbon monoxide that is being spilled out. If the amount of carbon monoxide is high, it can kill you in just a few minutes!
High concentrations of carbon monoxide kill in less than five minutes. At low concentrations it will require a longer period of time to affect the body. Exceeding the EPA concentration of 9 ppm for more than 8 hours is suspected to produce adverse health affects in persons at risk.Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at Iowa State University
Can A Pilot Light Cause Carbon Monoxide?
You may be wondering, “Can a pilot light cause carbon monoxide?” It’s not as far-fetched as you might think.
A pilot light is like the ignition system in your furnace or water heater. If the pilot light is out or doesn’t work properly, these appliances won’t ignite either.
If you notice that the flames from your gas stovetop are yellow or orange (instead of blue or bluish-green), that could indicate that it is producing carbon monoxide.
A stove’s pilot light may cause carbon monoxide if it doesn’t distribute the gas properly. This can happen when a vent pipe is blocked or restricted, or when there isn’t enough air to react with the gas.
If you’re smelling gas in your home, leave the house immediately. Contact your local gas company or 911.
Signs Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
If you or others in your home begin experiencing nausea, dizziness, headaches or general malaise like a flu – these may be signs of carbon monoxide poisoning.
I would also tell you to watch out for your pets because they may experience symptoms before you do. So look for signs of vomiting, uncoordinated movements, irritable behavior and drowsiness in your pets. You can read more about this here.
If you suspect any signs of carbon monoxide poisoning leave the house immediately and call 911.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long do you have to air out a house after a gas burner is left on?
The answer varies depending on the amount of carbon monoxide in the air. It can be recommended to air the house out for 15 – 20 minutes or it could be a few hours.
Can a pilot light cause carbon monoxide?
If the pilot light is adjusted correctly it would be rare for it to leak carbon monoxide. But if it’s maladjusted in any way then yes, it could certainly expel carbon monoxide, albeit a very small amount.