ENSTAR Natural Gas Company provides natural gas service through 3,200 miles of gas distribution and transmission mains to more than 350,000 customers in South Central Alaska. The safety of the public, our employees, and protecting the environment are ENSTAR's top priorities. ENSTAR’s gas pipeline system is designed, installed, and maintained with the highest regard for safety in compliance with applicable federal, state, and local government statutes and regulations. ENSTAR is regularly inspected to ensure that its operation meets industry standards.
The U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Pipeline Safety (USDOT), Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) oversees minimum safety regulations for the transportation of natural gas by pipelines. The DOT safety regulations are currently published in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).
As an operator of a natural gas system, ENSTAR is required by the DOT regulations to:
- Deliver gas safely and reliably to customers.
- Provide training and written instruction for employees.
- Establish written procedures to minimize hazards resulting from gas pipeline emergencies.
- Keep records of inspections and testing.
- Test employees in safety-sensitive positions for prohibited drugs and alcohol.
What to Do if You Suspect a Natural Gas Leak
Please leave the affected area and immediately call ENSTAR's 24 hour dispatch center:
277-5551 - Anchorage
376-7979 - Mat-Su Area
262-9334 - Kenai Peninsula Area
1-877-907-9767 - Whittier
ENSTAR has Technicians available to investigate gas leaks 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A Technician will be dispatched quickly to investigate all potential leaks, regardless of the time of day.
Here are some important reminders:
- DON’T use your telephone. This includes cellular phones and all types of portable communication and electronic devices that have a battery. These can spark and create a source of ignition.
- DON’T light matches or create any other source of ignition.
- DON’T turn a light on or off, or operate ANY electrical switches, either off or on. This could create a source of ignition. The sparking could ignite the gas.
- OPEN windows and doors wide.
- EVACUATE all persons from the building.
- CALL ENSTAR Natural Gas from a neighbor’s phone or a phone away from the building.
In its natural state, natural gas is odorless and colorless. So that it can be detected easily, ENSTAR injects an odorant called mercaptan into the gas before it goes into the company’s distribution system. The odorant is so highly concentrated that even the smallest amounts of natural gas can be detected. If you’ve never smelled it, mercaptan gives off a foul smell, reminiscent of rotten eggs.
What to Do if You Damage a Gas Line
If you damage a pipeline facility, call ENSTAR's 24-hour dispatch number at 277-5551. Call ENSTAR any time a gas line is broken, scraped, pulled, cut or otherwise damaged. If the damage results in a release of natural gas and there is a danger to life or property, you should call the local Fire Department or 911. Eliminate all ignition sources and evacuate the area of the damage. Wait for an ENSTAR employee to shut off the flow of gas and make repairs.
Gas lines that have been pulled, stretched, kinked or bent could be damaged underground away from where the line is connected. If you pull or stretch gas lines call ENSTAR at 277-5551 and an ENSTAR Representative will investigate for possible underground leakage.
Customer Owned Buried Gas Piping
Most people do not have buried gas piping beyond ENSTAR's meter assembly, however, if you do, you should know that ENSTAR does not routinely inspect or maintain customer's buried pipelines. If buried gas piping is located beyond ENSTAR's meter, it is the customer's responsibility to:
- Periodically inspect for leaks.
- Periodically inspect for corrosion.
- Repair unsafe conditions discovered.
If a customer's buried pipe is not maintained, it may be subject to the potential hazards of corrosion and leakage. When digging near buried gas piping, locate pipe first. Private contractors can assist in locating, inspecting, and repairing buried gas piping.
Under normal operating conditions, natural gas burns cleanly, producing heat, carbon dioxide, and water vapor. Natural gas is non-toxic and is the cleanest burning fossil fuel available. But if natural gas isn't burning properly or the appliance has a mechanical problem, it could create a hazard. Incomplete combustion of natural gas produces carbon monoxide, which is an odorless, poisonous, and potentially fatal gas. A couple of indicators of incomplete combustion can be a yellow flame (blue is normal) or combustion odors or soot around the front of the furnace or water heater. If you or other members of the household feel out of breath, dizzy, nauseous, or have headaches, you could be suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. You need to get fresh air right away. Then call your emergency provider. Have your gas appliances inspected regularly by a qualified heating technician. Annual equipment checks by a qualified technician can be the best prevention of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide detectors used in the home should meet Underwriters Laboratories Standard UL2034. They should be located in or near bedrooms or adjacent hallway. Follow the manufacturers' instructions when installing a carbon monoxide detector. For more information go to: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/466.html.
What to Do To Prevent CO Build-Up in Your Home
- Make sure appliances are installed according to manufacturer's instructions and local building codes. Have the heating system (including chimneys and vents) inspected and serviced annually.
- Never burn charcoal inside a home, garage, vehicle or tent.
- Install a CO detector / alarm on every level of your home where there is a bedroom.
- Never use portable fuel-burning camping equipment inside a home, garage, vehicle or tent.
Follow the suggestions of this drawing and be CO safe and smart!
On behalf of our customers, ENSTAR is going on the offensive to protect Alaska gas consumers
- Never leave a car running in an attached garage, even with the garage door open.
- Never service fuel-burning appliances in any room where people are sleeping.
- Never use gas appliances for heating your home, such as ranges, ovens or clothes dryers.
- Do not use gasoline-powered tools and engines indoors.
To help keep your gas appliances operating safely and efficiently a licensed heating contractor or plumber should check your gas appliances every year. Not performing annual maintenance may result in inefficient appliance operation and in some cases dangerous exposure to carbon monoxide.
What causes carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is formed when carbon-based fuels, such as kerosene, gasoline, propane, natural gas, oil, charcoal or wood, are burned with inadequate amounts of oxygen, creating a condition known as incomplete combustion. In the case of home gas appliances, this can be caused by improper installation, poor maintenance, or other appliance misuse or failure.
Carbon monoxide poisoning
When incomplete combustion occurs in your home’s gas appliances, carbon monoxide is produced, and this can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning of you and your family. The early stages of carbon monoxide poisoning produce unexplained flu-like symptoms, such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath and mental confusion. Since carbon monoxide displaces the oxygen in the blood, prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide can lead to death by asphyxiation.
Signs that may indicate the presence of carbon monoxide
- A yellow, large and unsteady gas appliance burner flame (with the exception of decorative gas log appliances).
- An unusual pungent odor when the appliance is operating. This may indicate the creation of aldehydes, a by-product of incomplete combustion.
- Unexplained nausea, drowsiness and flu-like symptoms.
What to do if you suspect carbon monoxide is present in your home:
- Immediately turn off and stop using the suspected gas appliance.
- Seek medical attention if anyone in the home experiences possible carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms.
- Contact a licensed heating contractor or plumber immediately to have the appliance inspected.
- Don’t use the suspected gas appliance until it has been inspected, serviced and determined to be safe by a licensed heating contractor.
How to maintain and use gas appliances to prevent carbon monoxide
- Vacuum around burner compartments, and inspect and replace furnace filters on forced-air units or central heating systems according to manufacturer instructions.
- Make sure to properly replace the front panels of a forced-air unit or the burner compartment door of a gas wall heater.
- Never store anything near a gas appliance that might interfere with normal appliance airflow.
- Have all gas appliances and venting repairs done by a qualified and licensed heating or plumbing contractor.
- When using your gas fireplace, make sure the damper is open.
- Never use your gas oven for space heating.
- Gas appliance maintenance is always the homeowner’s responsibility.
Should you worry about carbon monoxide?
Accidental carbon monoxide poisoning from natural gas appliances is statistically rare. During the last 20 years, the number of deaths related to unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning has declined substantially. However, while the chance of dying from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning from a home gas appliance is rare, it is still essential to perform regular maintenance on your home gas appliances to ensure your safety. For these reasons, it is recommended that you have your gas furnace checked at least once a year by a licensed heating contractor.
If there is an earthquake and you believe you must shut off your gas service
Do not turn off your gas unless you smell gas or hear gas leaking. In the event of a major emergency, increased work volumes may cause service delays. It could be days before a service technician can be scheduled to get to your home and restore service. Take a few simple precautions. Secure your natural gas water heater to a wall so it won't fall over. Also, move flammable material away from any natural gas appliance. After an earthquake, check to be sure nothing flammable has fallen or spilled near a natural gas appliance. If you detect a strong natural gas odor or hear the hissing sound of natural gas, follow the instructions in this brochure to shut off your gas.
Serious accidents in the home can be caused by flammable liquid vapors. Vapors from flammable liquids such as gasoline, cleaning solvent, contact cement, and paint thinner can ignite from an open flame, such as a natural gas water heater or furnace pilot light. These accidents occur most often in garages and basements. Many flammable vapors are heavier than air. That is why codes require that heating equipment used in a garage, which generates a glow, a spark, or a flame capable of igniting flammable vapors shall be installed with the pilots and burners, or heating elements and switches, at least 18 inches above the floor level. Take these important precautions:
- Flammable liquids must always be used in the open, NEVER in confined areas or without adequate ventilation.
- When using flammable liquids, work in a well-ventilated area away from any ignition source - including a pilot light or electronic ignition.
- Do not fill your lawn mower with gasoline or use cleaning solvent or paint thinner near a natural gas appliance. Spills on concrete floors can spread and vaporize quickly.
- Store flammable liquids out of reach of children and away from source of ignition.
Hot Water Safety
Children have sensitive skin and it can burn much easier than an adult's. There are some simple rules that all parents should follow for hot water safety. Never put your child in the tub while the water is still running. Fill the tub, and then put your hand all the way into the water. Spread your fingers and move your hand back and forth the full length of the tub to check for hot spots. Always stay with your child while they are in the tub - even if the phone rings. Children can turn on hot water in a flash and it only takes seconds to burn or drown. The water coming out of your faucet should never be hotter than 120 degrees. If your water heater is set too high, turn it down or have your plumber do it for you.
Teach kitchen safety to all members of your household, especially children. Teach children not to turn any range knobs. Keep all combustible materials such as paper-towels, curtains, clothing and electric cords away from range burners. Keep burners and the range top clean. Boil-overs and accumulations of grease can create a fire hazard. Keep an all-purpose (ABC-rated) fire extinguisher in a convenient location. In the event of a range-top fire, use the extinguisher. You can also use baking soda to put out a grease fire. Small fires often can be smothered with a wet towel or a large pot cover. If a burner flame goes out, shut off the range knob. Wait for the gas to dissipate, and then relight the burner. When lighting a manually-operated oven or top burner (no pilot light), always light the match first, place it at the burner and then turn on the range knob. Shut the burners off when not in use.
Many natural gas appliances and most water heaters use pilot lights that burn continuously. New natural gas appliances, except water heaters, have electronic ignition. Pilot lights on gas water heaters ensure hot water during electrical power outages. The automatic shut-off valve on most appliances prevents the main burner from coming on if the pilot is not lit. If the pilot goes out, the automatic shut-off valve is activated and the appliance will safely shut off. Range top burners and burners on some older appliances do not have automatic shut-off valves. If there is a gas odor from an unlit pilot light, report it to the nearest ENSTAR office.
Protecting the Service Line and Gas Meter
It is the customer’s responsibility to protect the service line and gas meter serving their building. Gas meters must be protected from vehicular damage. Property owners are responsible for installing protective bollards to protect the gas meter serving their building, if the meter is susceptible to vehicular damage. Call ENSTAR at 277-5551 for protective bollard design information.
Shutting Off Your Gas
Should a situation arise where you need to turn off your gas supply immediately, please follow this simple procedure: Locate the shut-off valve on the riser pipe (the pipe running from the ground to your meter). You will need a crescent or pipe wrench to turn the valve. When the valve head is parallel to the riser pipe, it is in the open position. Turn the valve head crosswise to the pipe and it will be in the closed position. There are also natural gas shut-off valves on the pipes fueling individual gas appliances.
Warning: once the gas is off, leave it off.
Call your nearest ENSTAR office when you are ready for the gas to be turned back on. A qualified service technician will check your system, turn on your service, and relight your appliances for you.
Venting Gas Appliances
According to State Mechanical Code, "fuel-burning appliances shall be vented to the outside in accordance with their listing and label, and manufacturers' installation instructions." ENSTAR does not provide gas service to unvented heaters inside buildings. For your safety, you need to operate your appliance in accordance with manufacturer's instructions and have them inspected by your local building department. Gas and electric dryers need to be ducted to the outside to prevent moisture and lint accumulations. Check your vent or chimney. Make certain it is tight, clean, and in good repair to ensure proper venting. Promptly report any combustion odor to the nearest ENSTAR office.
Flexible Gas Connectors
Older flexible gas connectors that connect home appliances to gas supply pipes may still be in use. These gas connectors are corrugated tubes made of uncoated brass. They may crack or break, resulting in a gas leak, fire, or explosion. Homes built and appliances installed within the past 20 years should not be at risk. But, uncoated brass flexible gas connectors may still be in people's homes. As these connectors age, they become more dangerous. All uncoated flexible brass connectors should be replaced. Only a professional should inspect the connectors, which are most often used with gas ranges, ovens, and clothes dryers. Even slightly moving an older appliance to clean or check it for the presence of an uncoated brass connector can cause the connector to fail. This can allow gas to leak, which can lead to an explosion and fire.
Snow & Ice
It is the customer’s responsibility to keep their gas meter clear from ice and snow. Heavy ice and snow accumulation, especially from shoveling roofs, can cause damage to gas meters or gas piping. Homeowners and emergency workers must have access to the gas shut off valve in the event of an earthquake, house fire or other emergency. Ice and snow accumulation on a gas meter can cause gas leaks, and other operational problems which could result in severe personal injury or property damage.
Other important safety tips include:
- Do not tie-up or leash pets to gas meters.
- Do not allow children to play on or near gas meters.
- Do not stack firewood or other materials around your gas meter.
- Do not build a deck over a gas meter that restricts access to the meter.
- Do not build any permanent structures such as additions, garages, etc. over the service line serving your building. Call ENSTAR to have the service line rerouted.
- Report all damage to ENSTAR’s facilities immediately by calling ENSTAR’s 24 hour dispatch at 277-5551.