We’ve so much running through our minds every day that sometimes we forget to do the simplest things, like turning off the stove. It may look like a silly mistake, but failing to turn off the gas stove happens more often than you’d think. So, what should you do if you accidentally leave a gas stove on without flame?
If you accidentally left the gas stove on without flame, have everyone leave the room, turn off the stove and ventilate the room immediately you notice it. Leaving a gas stove on can be dangerous, especially if left for long. Avoid anything that can trigger a spark during this time, and that involves all your electronic appliances. Where necessary, call 911 immediately.
How you respond to leaving the gas stove on without a flame can mean the difference between life and death. So, in this article, we will discuss all there’s to know about leaving a gas stove on without a flame, from the dangers to what you should do.
Dangers of Leaving Gas Stove On Without Flame
The dangers of leaving the gas stove on without flame range from the obvious ones like causing fires to the less noticeable effects like skin irritation. That’s why you should never leave the gas stove on without a flame on purpose, no matter how short the duration may be.
Here are some dangers of leaving your gas stove on:
1. It Can Cause Fire
You see, your gas stove either runs on natural gas or propane. And both of these are combustible materials. They’re byproducts of fossil fuels that, mixed with oxygen, can cause a fire. In fact, it’s because of their high flammability that you use them as fuel in the first place.
So, leaving your gas stove on without a flame emits gas into the air. That’s especially true if you don’t have the modern stoves with the safety feature that cuts off the gas supply when it detects that there’s no flame.
And while no level of gas concentration will ever burst into flames per se, the more the gas accumulates in the air, the greater the susceptibility of a fire breaking out. At times it may emanate from a seemingly minor source like flipping a light switch.
2. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
We’ve all heard how running a generator in a poorly ventilated space can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. And well, generators aren’t the only things that can produce carbon monoxide.
The thing is, we produce carbon monoxide in many of the things we do. For instance, when we drive our cars or use some power tools. And of course, your gas stove also produces carbon monoxide when it burns natural gas or propane.
But then again, you don’t have to cook with it to produce carbon monoxide. Even when it’s turned on but not in use, your gas stove will reduce the amount of oxygen in the air, making the carbon monoxide levels spiral.
3. It Can Cause Skin Irritation
Another danger of leaving your gas stove on without a flame is that it can cause skin irritation. This is because some of the chemicals in the gas can be corrosive. So, when they come into contact with your skin, they can cause rashes or other forms of irritation.
Manifestation and severity differs from one individual to another. But generally, it’s the people who are sensitive to chemicals that get the shorter end of the stick in this case. So, if you’re in that category, you may expect to suffer from skin issues. It gets even worse if you have open wounds on your skin.
Accidentally Left Gas Stove On Without Flame Overnight
If you accidentally left the gas stove on without flame overnight, that’s quite long. It means the amount of gas in the air is more likely than not to cause trouble in the event a spark is generated. So, take extra precautions. A simple mistake can set your entire place ablaze.
Leaving a gas stove on even for a few minutes is risky. So, for the case of having it on overnight, the risks are greatly magnified. But that doesn’t mean you’re doomed if you find your stove in such a state in the morning.
You just need to be more cautious than you’d be in the case of a few minutes. And when I say you need to be “more cautious”, it even means not starting your car if the garage is close to your kitchen. And if you can’t cough a car engine that’s in a separate room, then flipping your fan switch in the affected room should be more dangerous.
But don’t let that send you into panic. Everything should be fine if you do what’s right and follow the necessary precautions to the letter.
What To Do If You Accidentally Left Gas Stove On Without Flame?
In the event you leave your gas stove on without flame, you need to relax, do the necessary evacuation, turn the stove off, and leave the entryways open for some time. If you’re afraid to handle the situation on your own, you can also call the fire department for help.
Your response to the mistake of leaving your gas stove on without a flame will determine the outcome. So, ensure that you’re cautious in every step you take. Let’s look at some of the things you need to do:
Step 1: Relax
The first thing you need to do is to relax. Don’t panic. It sounds almost impossible given the situation. But you need to calm down as best as you can. Panicking can only make the situation worse. It makes it more likely to make mistakes. So, try as much as possible to contain your panic.
Step 2: Send Everyone Out
The second step is to instruct everyone in the house to leave. That includes your pets. You want your dear ones to be as far away from the source of the danger as possible. So, ensure they’re all out before you take the next step.
Step 3: Turn The Stove Off
Proceed and turn the gas off. That’s only if you can do it without putting yourself in danger. If you’re unsure about your safety or have one of the types that have auto-ignition, then it’s best to leave the work to the gas company.
Auto-ignition stoves will more likely produce some spark even when turning them off. So, it’s best to let the experts handle it. But if the type you have won’t create a spark, you can turn it off without worrying about an explosion.
Step 4: Crack Wide All The Entryways
Once you’ve turned the stove off, open all the entryways of your kitchen. That includes doors and windows of your cookhouse. It will allow the gas to dissipate quickly. Also, it will ensure that your space is well-ventilated in case of other fumes in the air. Where the gas has already penetrated to the neighboring room, do the same for it.
Step 5: Leave The House
After you’ve opened the windows and doors, leave the house immediately. As seen, fire isn’t the only danger when you leave your gas stove on without a flame. So, it’s best to get some fresh air as soon as possible.
Ensure that you stay away for as long as possible. The gas may take some time before it dissipates completely. Perhaps you’d already inhaled some carbon monoxide. So, you want to be on the safe side and not come back until you’re absolutely sure that everything has stabilized.
When Should You Call The Fire Department?
If you can’t contain your panic or feel like you may not be able to handle the situation yourself, then it’s best to call the fire department. Also, if you can’t turn the stove off or have an auto-ignition type, it’s best to let the professionals handle it.
The fire department will have the necessary experience and equipment to deal with the situation. So, you don’t have to worry about anything going wrong. And of course, you need to make this call when you and everyone else are already outside the house.
How Long To Air Out The House After The Gas Burner Left On?
How long it will take to air out your house when the gas burner is left on depends on the amount of gas in the air and the ventilation level of your space. But if you can, stay away for at least an hour before you can go back in.
You see, gas is lighter than air. So, it will quickly rise to the top and stay there for some time. Hence, if you have a two-story house, it’s best to wait outside until the gas has cleared out completely. The time it takes for that to happen depends on the gas level relative to the level of ventilation.
If you’d left the gas for a short while, say, like 20 minutes or so, 30 minutes should be enough to get rid of most of the gas if you’ve got a well-ventilated house. But if you have a not-so-well-ventilated home or the time you left the gas on was relatively long, you should give it more time.
For heavy gas concentrations, it may take up to four hours for the gas to clear out completely. But in most cases, an hour or two of airing the room out should be enough to avert catastrophe, provided you’ve opened all the doors and windows and there’s enough ventilation.
Can You Get Carbon Monoxide Poisoning From A Gas Stove?
Yes, you can get carbon monoxide poisoning from a gas stove if it’s left out for long. Both propane and natural gas are hydrocarbons. So, if you leave the gas stove on, the two fuels may react with the amount of oxygen in the air to create carbon monoxide.
And when inhaled, this gas will replace the oxygen in your bloodstream and will start to poison you. The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include;
In severe cases, it may lead to death. And yes, that’s more likely to happen than anyone may think, simply because carbon monoxide is odorless and tasteless. Lack of taste and odor means you won’t even notice when things are getting worse.
But to avoid such accidents, invest in a UL or CSA-certified carbon monoxide detector. It will help raise the alarm before the levels get too high.
How Long Does It Take To Get Carbon Monoxide Poisoning From A Gas Stove?
You can expect it to take less than two hours of exposure to get carbon monoxide poisoning from a gas stove. But when carbon monoxide concentrations are too high, it may take as little as five minutes for death to occur.
So, if you ever feel any of the symptoms mentioned above after being in a room with a gas stove, you need urgent medical attention. Where the signs seem severe, call an ambulance immediately. Carbon monoxide poisoning isn’t something to take lightly.
Leaving your gas stove on accidentally poses a grave danger. It can cause death through fire eruption or even carbon monoxide poisoning. And while natural gas and propane are odorless, manufacturers add mercaptan, an additive that smells like a rotten egg to make it easy to detect in case of a leak or when you leave the gas open.
Even so, it’s always best to err on the side of precaution. Investing in a gas with the auto shut-off feature may save you from future fire hazard. And as you get one, also spare some bucks for a decent carbon monoxide detector. This tool will help do the sniffing for you and alert you of any carbon monoxide in your space.