Fire protection tips: Gas in the house

How do I recognise a gas smell? What should I do in the event of a gas leak? The CWS fire protection tips show the correct behaviour.

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12 January 2022 Fire Safety

In Germany, more than 21 million households heat with gas, which corresponds to 49.5 % of the housing stock.¹ At the same time, 39 % of newly constructed buildings in 2020 were also equipped with gas heating.² Furthermore, a large number of gas cookers are still in use. Gas use in the home is fundamentally safe. The risk of a gas leak or gas explosion is low if certain precautions are taken.

Nevertheless, anyone who uses gas for cooking or heating should check the gas system regularly and know the correct procedures to follow in the event of a rare gas leak.

Safe handling of gas

People who operate gas heating or a gas cooker in the house should make sure where the gas supply is located and can be turned off. Usually the central gas supply is located in the basement. It is important to check the shut-off valves regularly for functionality and to have the gas boiler serviced annually. The landlord or the owner of the building is responsible for the maintenance of the gas system.

It is also advisable to install gas detectors in living rooms, bedrooms and the kitchen. These warn in good time in the event of a gas leak in order to avoid life-threatening poisoning or a gas explosion.

Gasgeruch im Haus

Detect gas smell

Gasgeruch erkennen

In its normal state, gas is odourless, tasteless and invisible, so a gas leak would not be noticeable to people in the building. For this reason, gas suppliers are obliged to add an odorant to the gas. This resembles ammonia, solvents or other chemicals. As a result, it is possible for gas consumers to recognise a gas leak by an acrid and unpleasant gas smell and to take the right steps.

Good to know: Gas network operators often offer an odour sample in order to clearly assign the odour.

What should I do if I smell gas?

In the event of a gas smell, it is important to remain calm and act prudently to avoid a gas explosion.

The following steps must be followed:

  • Do not use electrical appliances.
  • Warn your neighbours by knocking or calling.
  • Turn off the gas tap.
  • Ventilate the building by opening the windows and doors.
  • Leave the building.
  • Notify city or gas works outside the endangered area!

Important: If there is a high concentration of gas, a spark or electrical voltage can lead to a gas explosion and fire. Therefore, never use electrical appliances, including doorbells or light switches, when there is a smell of gas.

Learn more about the correct behaviour in case of gas odour.

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¹BDEW Bundesverband der Energie- und Wasserwirtschaft e.V. (2021): Anteile der genutzten Energieträger im Jahr 2020, URL: https://www.bdew.de/service/daten-und-grafiken/beheizungsstruktur-wohnungsbestand-deutschland/

²Statistisches Bundesamt (Destatis) (2021): 39 % der im Jahr 2020 gebauten Wohngebäude heizen mit Erdgas, URL: https://www.destatis.de/DE/Presse/Pressemitteilungen/2021/10/PD21_N060_61_44.html