It can happen to any one of us – leaving a gas stove on (with or without a flame), leaving an 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 smells like rotten eggs) whether you notice a flame on your gas stove or not, open your windows immediately and then make sure all the knobs on your stove are turned off. Avoid turning on any lights or creating a flame of any kind. Then get everyone out of the house (including pets) and call 911 immediately.
IMPORTANT: Gas leaks can’t always be detected by smell, especially by the elderly whose sense of smell may be impaired.
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.
Gas Stove Safety Tips
Below are a list of recommendations to be as safe as possible if you use a gas stove in your home.
- Have your gas stove inspected every year (your plumber may be qualified to 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. Flames 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 gas 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.
- Smoke alarms should of course be installed properly nearby.
- To help keep small children and/or seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s we recommend the use of safety knobs on your gas stove.
- After the stove burners have cooled wipe off the top of the stove after every use (small food particles can catch on fire).
- Clean the stove burners and grates 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, or wet towel or lots of salt or baking soda to put the fire out.
Can Leaving The Gas Stove On Kill You?
Leaving a gas stove on can kill you several ways…
- the carbon monoxide emitted can suffocate you to death
- if the flame on the stove top is burning and something happens to ignite near it fall on it then a fire could erupt and that could be your death
- gas leaks can occur (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. But we caution you to NEVER leave a gas stove on unattended (i.e. overnight or if you are away from home).
How Long Does It Take For Gas To Dissipate?
There are two types of 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.
Can Leaving A Gas Stove On Cause Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
All gas stoves emit carbon monoxide so it could potentially cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
It all depends on how long the stove is left on and the venting in the area. If the windows are open then the chances of carbon monoxide poisoning are lessened but may still be present.
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.
Again, leave the house and call 911 immediately.