How To Use an Evacuation Chair During a Gas Leak Emergency

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There are several different types of an emergency you may encounter at home or work. Some require the building to be evacuated, whereas others require occupants to stay in place until further instruction is received. One situation that absolutely requires occupants to evacuate the building is an emergency gas leak.

Today, we will discuss how to identify a potential leak, the stages of an evacuation in such an instance, and how to use your evacuation chairs from Evacuscape during a gas leak emergency.

What Is a Gas Leak?

A gas leak is when natural gas or a gaseous product (like butane or propane) leaches from a pipeline or another source. Not only are gas leaks detrimental to the environment, but they can also be incredibly hazardous to human health — and in some cases, life-threatening.

Why Are Gas Leaks Dangerous?

The dangers of a gas leak are twofold. First, a gas leak can harm our overall health through exposure. Second, a gas leak poses a severe risk of fire and explosion, as it is highly flammable.

Physical symptoms of a natural gas leak may include:

  • Headaches.
  • Dizziness.
  • Tiredness.
  • Laboured breathing.
  • Blistering on the skin.
  • Eye irritation.
  • Nausea.

How Can You Identify a Gas Leak?

Natural gas has no scent, so persons may be unaware that they have a very minor gas leak until symptoms — like those mentioned above — present themselves. For this reason, utility companies add mercaptan, a harmless chemical, to gas to give it a sulphur-like scent which can help individuals identify more substantial leaks.

If you experience any of the following warning signs at home or work, you may have a possible gas leak.

  • If you notice damage to a gas line.
  • If you smell the sulphur-like scent, as mentioned above — the stronger the scent, the bigger the problem.
  • If you hear a whistling noise near a gas pipe.
  • If you see a misty cloud or bubbles (for no apparent reason) in sitting water — like in puddles along the outside of the building.
  • Higher than average utility bills.
  • Dying plants either inside the building or on the perimeter of the building that are experiencing growth challenges or have unexpectedly died.

The ground floor of an office building. To the left, there’s a receptionist in focus, to the right, blurred occupants

How Should You Respond if You Suspect a Gas Leak?

If you suspect a major gas leak in a building — occupants are reporting a strong smell of gas, for example — it’s essential that you act quickly. The following steps are fundamental to a safe evacuation.

  1. Respond calmly and quickly.
  2. Make other building occupants aware.
  3. Exit the building immediately, opening windows and doors when possible.
  4. Connect with emergency responders and the gas company — make the call away from the immediate vicinity of the building.
  5. Always act — never assume that someone else has contacted emergency crews.

Note that knowing how to respond specifically during a gas leak emergency should be incorporated into your building evacuation plan.

While the ‘to dos’ are vital, it’s equally as important to take note of some crucial do-nots should you suspect a gas leak:

  • Do not use lights, appliances, or elevators.
  • Do not pull the fire alarm.
  • Do not use a cell phone.
  • Do not light a match, lighter, cigarette or vaporizer.
  • Do not start motors or generators.

Any of these acts can spark, which could cause the gas to combust. Further, in extreme instances, if the gas leak has caused a fire, do not attempt to extinguish it yourself.

How to Use an Evacuation Chair During a Gas Leak Emergency

As per step three above, occupants should exit the building immediately via the closest exit. Elevators should not be in service during an emergency gas leak since they can produce a spark that may ignite.

In cases when elevators and stairlifts are inoperable for safety reasons, high-quality evacuation chairs will prove vital. How? They allow for the efficient and safe evacuation of those who need assistance to descend stairs securely; seniors, those with physical disabilities, pregnant people, and individuals with temporary injuries are likely to need assistance.

Evacuation chairs should be located at a refuge point (a meeting point) where individuals can await aid. Incorporated into your evacuation plan should be an assigned individual (or individuals) who know to stop at refuge points during an emergency and who are trained on how to use escape chairs.

During an evacuation, the assigned individual will remove the chair from its wall mount, unfasten the seatbelt, and lower the seat until it’s fully deployed. Next, they will pull the back wheels into place. Lastly, they’ll pull the adjustable pins so the handle locks into place.

Now the seat is ready for its passenger. Evacuscape evacuation chairs pivot seamlessly between transit and descent mode, allowing the user to maneuver the rider effortlessly and safely during different types of evacuation.

Prevent the Potential for a Gas Leak

In some cases of an emergency gas leak — like a natural disaster, when gas lines were damaged — preventative measures won’t prove valuable. In other instances, however, taking some precautionary measures can make a world of difference in preventing a future gas leak.

  • Install carbon monoxide and natural gas detectors. Most detectors now hardwire into a building’s electric circuit. Seek out sensors that take batteries as a second power source during blackouts.
  • Educate employees and family members about the warning signs of a gas leak.
  • Do routine checks of gas lines, ductwork, pipes, and appliances that use gas. Gas-powered appliances often have a pilot light. If you notice that the flame is anything other than small and blue with a yellow tip, contact the manufacturer immediately.
  • Install a fixed gas monitor, which will indicate gas levels.

The Bottom Line

An emergency gas leak is a dangerous and, understandably, stressful situation. By taking a proactive approach and by providing occupants with the tools that they need, you’re mitigating the potential for a worse outcome while ensuring that all residents or team members are both safe and seen.

Connect with us today to learn more about the merits of owning an evacuation chair and how they can help you provide an inclusive and holistic approach to your emergency plan.

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A wide lens shot of a modern apartment. A woman in a wheelchair is in the kitchen. She’s wearing a yellow sweater and white pantsA shot from a landing of a white stairwell. Grey-speckled stairs go upwards to the left and down to the right