Many homes and business use natural gas for its economic advantages. However, while natural gas burns a lot cleaner than coal, it comes with potentially deadly risks. Because it is odorless, utility companies supply the gas with a rotten egg smell to alert customers to a leak.
Gas leaks can be anywhere from an inconvenience—such as in an evacuation of a home or business—to fatalities. A rural Arizona man recalls returning to his apartment after work to find that his oven was not working. He learned from his neighbor that the gas company shut off service because of a gas leak, but the landlord did not notify tenants immediately. The man remained inconvenienced during the six weeks following the discovery before the landlord hired a plumber to fix the leak.
However inconvenienced this man was, he could have been much worse off. The news media carry reports of gas leaks across the country that trigger explosions and cause deaths and serious injuries. Our memories might be fresh about a gas leak that triggered an explosion in March 2014 that destroyed two buildings in Harlem. Residents could feel tremors more than a mile away. The blast killed at least three people and injured at least two dozen more, including two critically.
Utility companies as well as the National Institutes of Health and other entities advise consumers about the dangers that gas leaks pose. While exposure to low levels of natural gas is not immediately harmful, exposure to extremely high levels can lead to loss of consciousness or even death, whether immediately or over the long-term. You can be exposed to natural gas leaks if you work in several industries, including a gas-fired power plant and food processing facilities. You also risk exposure if you work in a restaurant, building or other facility that uses natural gas for space and water heating, cooling, cooking and powering generators, according to NIH.
While we often want to care of in in-home tasks on our own, experts advise homeowners to do the following:
- Hire professionals to install a natural gas appliance, such as a stove.
- Read and follow instructions from manufacturers for the care and use of appliances.
- Check the flame on lights and burners of furnaces.
You may consider legal remedies if injuries, property damage or loss of love ones occurred through no fault of your own. Consider the following factors:
- If you were renting a house or apartment, was your landlord remiss in hiring licensed contractors to inspect your furnace? HVAC contractors recommend inspections at least once a year for all gas appliances, furnaces, vents, flues, chimneys and gas lines.
- If the leak and explosion happened on the job, does your employer have a history of safety violations?
- Did a contractor who did excavation work near your home strike a gas line because he was unaware of the location of underground utilities?
If you or someone you know was injured or killed because of someone’s negligence resulting in a gas leak, or from failure to take care of a leak in a timely manner, you could have a personal injury lawsuit in the makings. A New York attorney who has successfully handled personal injury cases of all kinds is your best first step toward seeking the justice and compensation you deserve.