Do You Hear or Smell Natural Gas?

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Recognize and Report a Natural Gas Leak

First and foremost will be the smell of rotten eggs, or sometimes a sickly sweet smell. Natural gas on its own has no detectable odor. Mercaptian is a chemical that is added to the gas to give it its distinctive odor. This is a very concentrated odorant that helps you detect a very small leak quickly. The City of Shelby has Scratch and Sniff pamphlets to give you an idea of what natural gas smells like. They are available at Customer Services in City Hall and also at the Utility Operations Center.

Secondly, you may hear a hissing noise. This would happen in the event of a cracked fitting or connection. If outside, it may be a cut or broken line (Note: A gas meter does make a noise when it is operating. This is normal.).

Some other signs of a possible gas leak are:

  • Dead vegetation caused by the leaking natural gas displacing the oxygen in the ground.
  • Bubbles may appear in a wet area such as a puddle in your yard near a gas service line or a gas main.
  • A dry spot in a moist field. Natural gas has a very low humidity level.
  • A fire or explosion on or near a pipeline facility.
  • Underground leaks can cause dust or dirt to be blown into the air.

If you encounter any of these situations, remember to always be safe. Evacuate the building or move to a safe location. If you have any doubts, do not hesitate to call 911.

For a natural gas leak inside a building:

  • DO NOT try to locate the problem yourself.
  • DO NOT turn on or off any lights in the building.
  • DO NOT operate anything electrical: phones, radios, doorbells, etc.
  • DO NOT operate any vehicle or motor of any kind in or near the building. Walk away from the building, do not drive away.
  • Quickly open windows and exterior doors.
  • Evacuate any occupants from the building to a safe location.
  • Warn others to keep clear of the building.
  • Avoid all potential ignition sources.
  • From a safe distance away from the suspected leak call 911, the emergency operators will contact us.

For a natural gas leak outside:

  • From a safe area away from the leak, call 911.
  • Warn others to stay away from the area.
  • Eliminate any ignition sources, lawnmowers, and vehicles, keep people from smoking, do not use cell phones or radios in the area.