I was debating whether to title this blog the above or Adventures in Home Ownership because this entry was actually inspired by real events that happened yesterday at my home. I’ll spare you the story and flash forward to about 4 PM when my husband was scrubbing the concrete in our basement while I was trying to corral our cats into another room with one hand and Googling how to clean up gas with the other. Now, have you ever tried to diagnose yourself by searching your symptoms in WebMD? If not, no matter your symptoms, you’re pretty much going to wind up having the internet tell you your stuffy nose and congestion are going to lead to your death. I found the same is true for gas spills. After reading a few forums online, our house was basically going to blow up when, in reality (I learned) it’s not too big a deal.
So what do you do if you spill gas in your basement or in your garage? First thing first, it should go without saying that you should never fill or empty canisters or machines in your home. But accidents happen. And if you find yourself staring at a puddle that’s less than a gallon of fuel* on the floor, here’s what you should do right away.
1. Block off the “infected area” by shutting any doors leading from the house and open all windows and doors to the exterior in an effort to diffuse the repugnant odor of gas. I have to say, that is the worst part about having a spill, so make sure while you do steps 2-4 that you give yourself breaks and if you start to feel dizzy, immediately go outside for fresh air. Also make sure no open flames or anything that could ignite are on and/or in the area.
2. Put on rubber gloves and sop up any puddles. Anything you use to clean the area including step #3 should be wrapped in a heavy duty plastic bags and disposed of in an outside garbage can.
3. Once the area has been cleaned up, spread an absorbent material, like kitty litter (clay), wood chips, or sawdust mixed with baking powder or powered laundry detergent over the area to soak up the gasoline that is in the concrete and help to alleviate the strong gas odor. The photo accompanying this blog is what our spill looked like after doing this step. Use soapy hot water to clean other hard surfaces like appliances, walls, etc that the gas may have touched. Leave overnight or at least until the fumes has dissipated enough to indicate the gas is evaporating.
4. Clean up the mixture with a broom and wash the area one more time with just hot water.
I hope you never have to use this blog but in case you do, remember to relax because unless you’re lighting the spill with a match, rest assured your house is not going to blow up.
*Seek professional help for spills over 1 gallon to prevent any health and/or environmental issues.