Chatham Emergency Services Update

By Hunter Marr -
Chief, Skidaway Division

We had two incidents in our community over the past month that caused damage to residents’ houses and could have been so much worse. I thought it would be a good time to bring up some old reminders of unexpected hazards that are located in our houses. Please see below for some tips on how to mitigate as much of the risk as possible.

Golf Cart Charging

Golf carts are part of our lifestyle in The Landings. While golf carts are used for golf, they can also be used to travel to a prime fishing spot, chase sunsets, and visit friends. I have even heard a rumor that some teenagers are using them. At the end of the day, we plug in our carts and carry on with the evening. You may not realize that this simple act can be one that can cost you dearly. When golf cart batteries charge, they emit hydrogen, an odorless, colorless gas that is highly flammable. Hydrogen is a double-whammy type of gas, as it can cause suffocation and catch fire. When hydrogen levels reach four-to-seven percent, it becomes explosive, and a simple touch of a light switch can be the ignition mechanism.

Luckily, there are a few easy steps that can minimize this risk. The first step is simple, as it should be done to prolong the life of your batteries. Set a monthly reminder to top off your golf cart batteries with distilled water. If the water level drops too low, hydrogen is emitted. Also, replace older batteries, as they are more likely to emit hydrogen and lack safety mechanisms created in 2018. Make sure you have a fresh air source to ventilate your garage. Bringing in fresh air will ensure the hydrogen level never reaches a dangerous level. Lastly, install a CO detector in your garage, as it will alert you when hydrogen gas reaches 300 ppm for 30 minutes.

For Your Gas Grill

After a period of storage or disuse, check your grill for gas leaks, deterioration, and burner obstructions. You also should check for gas leaks if you have a hard line or every time you change a propane cylinder. To check for leaks, apply a light soap and water solution to the couplings and hose. If you see bubbles, you have a leak. Never use a propane cylinder if it shows signs of dents, gouges, bulges, excessive rust, or other signs of external damage.

When lighting a gas grill, always keep the lid fully open to prevent a flash off from gas buildup. If a burner doesn’t ignite, turn off the gas, keep the grill lid open, and wait five minutes before trying to light it again. If your burners go out during operation, turn all burners to the OFF position, open the lid, and wait five minutes before attempting to relight.

Whether using natural gas or propane, after each use, in addition to turning your grill off at the control panel, you also should turn off the gas at the fuel source. For propane grills, that means turn the propane tank valve to the off position, and for natural gas grills, turn the gas supply line shutoff valve to the off position. Although this sounds inconvenient, the few seconds involved in securing the fuel source will prevent most inadvertent gas buildups.

Ventless Fireplaces

Ventless Fireplaces have gained in popularity due to their ease of installation and ability to provide heat and ambiance to a room. However, burning natural gas releases carbon monoxide, nitrous dioxide, and water vapor. When you cannot vent these gases, they flood into your living space. This is why ventless fireplaces can be installed only in larger rooms, as the hope is the gases will spread out over a larger area, thereby making them less dangerous. If you have a ventless fireplace, please make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector close to it and an automatic shutoff valve that measures the oxygen in the room. Finally, cracking a window will help introduce fresh air into the room.

This article was originally published by The Landings Association on their website.

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