TOLL FREE: (800) 279-9023

What to do if you smell natural gas

A suspicious odor at an intersection in east Columbus is the cause of concern for many residents.

Calls begin flooding the local police station early Wednesday morning as residents report smelling gas at the intersection of Bryden and Nelson. Officials believe that the smell is coming from a minor natural gas leak in underground pipes.  Gas leaks of this kind have been developing all over the area, but officials say that the leaks will be fixed as a new $2 billion infrastructure project gets under way, according to WBNS-10TV.

Most natural gas pipelines are buried underground not only for your safety but also to protect the pipes from weather and other outdoor elements. Although pipeline leaks are rare, knowing what to expect and understanding the warning signs can keep you and your family safe.

Unlike propane gas leaks, natural gas leaks can go undetected if they come from a pipeline.  Additionally, whereas propane gas settles in low places, natural gas rises. Because natural gas is lighter it also fills a space more quickly and can cause asphyxiation (the inability to breathe).

Signs of a Gas Leak inside Your Home or Business:

Rotten Egg-Like Smell
Natural gas gives off a garlic-like smell. It can also be described as smelling like a rotten egg or sulfur. This smell is actually added to the natural gas by utility companies to warn customers of a potential leak. When a gas leak is present, it can interact with electrical and fire sources. This could cause an explosion, so it’s very important to immediately leave the area if you smell gas.

Hissing or Blowing Sound
Sometimes a gas leak can be located because of a hissing or blowing sound. This sound can come from appliances such as gas stoves, some washer and dryer units, or from the gas source itself.
Signs of a Gas Leak outside Your Home or Business

Dead or Discolored Vegetation
Nature can cause veggies to change colors and flowers to wilt, but these events could also indicate a natural gas leak. The gas blocks the flowers’ natural source of oxygen, and many fruits and vegetables change color when they come in contact with dangerous gases. If dead or discolored vegetation is surrounded by green and healthy vegetation that is a red flag that a gas leak is present.

Blowing Dirt
Natural gas is a light gas that can easily blow around dirt if a leak has occurred. Spiraling or swirling dirt when little or no wind is present is a warning sign of a gas leak.

Bubbles In Standing Water
Standing water should not bubble. Bubbles in standing water can be an indication that a natural gas pipeline has broken.

What to do if you smell gas:

Very slight gas odor:

• Open up windows.
• Make sure pilot lights are off.
• Call the authorities or your utility and follow their instructions.

Stronger gas odor:

• Immediately exit the building.
• DO NOT turn any appliances or lights on or off. Do not use the phone, light any matches, use the doorbell, or take the elevator.
• Call the utility and the authorities from a safe place.
• Notify neighbors of the situation and advise them to evacuate.

If you see any suspicious behavior or issues involving gas pipelines in your community, please call your local utility or local law enforcement. Natural gas pipelines and other infrastructures are matters of great importance and national security.