Natural Gas Safety

What it is

Natural gas is a colourless and odourless fossil fuel composed mostly of methane. It is burned to make electricity and for heating and cooking. It can also be used as fuel for vehicles.

Mercaptan is a gas that smells like rotten eggs. Mercaptan is added to natural gas to make leaks easier to detect.

What it does

Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisons people. Because you can’t smell it, you can be poisoned before you have time to get to safety. CO poisoning can cause death in as little as one to three minutes. Even when it’s not fatal, acute and long-term exposure to CO can cause serious health problems.

How to protect yourself

To prevent CO poisoning:

  • Follow the manufacturers’ instructions on all fuel-burning appliances
  • Never use a portable generator, BBQ, camp stove or other similar device indoors, including inside a garage or other enclosed or partially enclosed areas
  • Only operate portable generators outdoors and at a location where the exhaust cannot enter your home or other buildings through doors or windows
  • Use a CO detector at home, including if you have a home with natural gas forced air heating

More Information

FortisBC has information about natural gas safety, what to do when you smell gas and much more.

The Fire Prevention Officers’ Association of British Columbia is dedicated to preventing fire and reducing its impact on the people and economy of the province.

BC Safety Authority oversees the safe installation and operation of technical equipment. It also issues permits, licences and certificates, and improves safety through public education, including these safety tips.