Natural and Propane Gas Safety Information

Detecting a leak

Natural and Propane gas are safe and reliable fuels, but leaks can occur.  Here are a few ways to recognize a Natural or Propane gas leak:

  • Look – Blowing dirt, dry spots in moist areas, bubbling water or dead plants or grass surrounded by green, live plants or grass may indicate a leak.
  • Listen – A hissing sound near a gas line or appliance may indicate a leak.
  • Smell – If you detect the smell of rotten eggs, leave the area
What to do if a leak is suspected

Leave the area immediately.  Do not try and find the leak.

Do not smoke, use any type of phone or light, turn lights or appliances on or off or operate any vehicle or equipment that may cause a spark.

After getting to a safe location away from the leak, immediately call JCCUD at 423-623-3069 or 865-475-7911 and/or 911.

Carbon Monoxide Safety

JCCUD’s first priority is the safety of our customers and the communities we serve.  Because raw natural and propane gas are odorless, a harmless chemical called mercaptan, an odor that smells like rotten eggs is added to help detect even the smallest leaks should they ever occur.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas which is produced by burning gasoline, wood, propane, natural gas, charcoal and other fuels.  Since carbon monoxide is produced as a by-product, it does not have any odorant added to help detect it.  Therefore, one will not realize by smell or sight that excessive levels of CO are present.  A CO detector is the best way to alert you at high levels.

Know the symptoms of Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning.  At moderate levels, you or your family can get severe headaches, become dizzy, mentally confused, nauseated or faint.  Low levels can cause shortness of breath, mild nausea and mild headaches that may have long term effects on your health.  The warning signs of CO poisoning can be subtle.  But the condition is a life-threatening medical emergency.  If you think you or someone you’re with may have carbon monoxide poisoning, get into fresh air and seek emergency medical care.

Maintaining Gas Lines and Propane Tanks

JCCUD is responsible for maintaining the gas lines that carry natural gas to your meter and the propane tank and service line that carry propane gas to your 2nd stage regulator.  However, you are responsible for all of the gas lines on your side of the meter or 2nd stage regulator to include:

  • Gas lines from your meter or 2nd stage regulator to the appliances on your property
  • Gas lines from your meter or 2nd stage regulator to a building, pool, spa, grill, fire pit or other gas appliances

Not maintaining these gas lines could result in potential future leaks.  You should have them periodically inspected by a licensed, qualified professional to identify unsafe conditions so they may be repaired immediately.

Natural Gas Pipeline Markers

Damage caused by a third-party contributes to many of the leaks on pipelines.  This includes, but is not limited to, contractors digging, grading or roadway work.  Always, Call Before You Dig by dialing 811.

Most natural gas pipelines are buried underground.  The yellow markers you see only indicate the general location of the pipelines.  They also do not show the depth of the pipeline.  Always hand dig when close to the pipeline and be cautious.

If a gas line is disturbed or damaged

Even if it appears you have done only minor damage to the gas line, immediately notify JCCUD.  The smallest scrape, dent or crease to the line or coating can cause future leaks.  Do not attempt to make repairs yourself.

What is 811?

811 is the phone number you call before digging to protect yourself and others from unintentionally hitting underground utility lines.  There are millions of miles of buried utilities beneath the surface of the earth that are vital to everyday living such as water, electricity and natural gas.

811 is the Federally designated call before you dig number that helps homeowners and professionals avoid damaging these vital utilities.  When you call 811 before you dig, you will help prevent unintended consequences such as injury to you or your family, damage to property, utility service outages to an entire area and potential fines and repair costs.

Man digs a hole
Do I need to call 811?

Yes!  Any type of digging requires a call to 811.  Planting a tree?  Building a deck?  Installing a fence?  811 is the number to call before beginning any project.  It is required by law.  Not only does it help keep you safe, but it can also help you avoid the high cost of utility damage.

How to make the call. 

You can call 811 from anywhere in the country prior to digging and your call will be routed to the local one call center.  You will tell the operator where you are planning to dig.  All of the affected local utility companies will be notified about your intent to dig and will send locators to the dig site to mark the approximate location of buried lines with flags or paint.  Remember:  Always call 811 before beginning any digging project!  Please understand it takes time for utilities to respond to locate requests. JCCUD averages around 500 requests per month.  A three (3) business day notice is required before digging to allow proper time for marking. 

Wait for the marks!  Utility companies will mark their buried lines on your dig site.

Most locate crews will arrive to mark your dig site with flags or paint within a few days.  This will help you to know where to avoid digging so that you don’t hit buried lines.  Always remember the depths of utility lines may vary and there may be multiple utility lines in the same area.  You should hand dig when near a buried utility line.  Be sure to check state laws for specific information.

Digging Safely

You called before digging, waited for your lines to be marked and now it’s time to get digging.  Make sure to always dig carefully around the marks, not on them.  Some utility lines may be buried at a shallow depth and an unintended shovel thrust can bring you right back to square one – facing potentially dangerous and/or costly consequences.  Don’t forget that erosion or root structure growth may shift the locations of your utility lines, so remember to call again each time you are planning a digging project.  Safe digging is no accident!

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