PSNC Energy provides a guide on Customer and Public Safety Awareness that includes instructions on what to do if you smell a gas leak. Since natural gas is actually odorless, PSNC explains that the rotten egg you smell comes from a chemical that they add to the natural gas so it can be detected when even the smallest leak occurs. Their guide states, “Everyone should be able to recognize it and associate it with natural gas.”
If you do smell the rotten egg odor, leave your home or business immediately and once you are safely outside, call 911 and PSNC Energy at 877-776-2427 to report the leak from a cell phone or from a neighbor’s phone. Do not use a cell phone while you are still inside the building. Do not light a match, and do not turn your lights or any electrical switches on or off.
All too often, gas leaks can cause a catastrophic explosion and fire. The most common cause of explosions and fires associated with gas leaks is a mechanical failure of the gas containing equipment. When the failure occurs, the gas can leak creating fumes that ignite, causing explosions and fire.
Improperly maintained boilers, water heaters, and pipes holding gas can release hazardous fumes with the potential to explode when they contact an ignition source. Sometimes external damage to the gas containing structure creates a leak allowing gas to escape.
A spark due to an electrical light, a pilot light, or the lighting of a cigarette can ignite leaking gas and cause an explosion. The power of the gas explosion depends on fuel, the gas concentration, the ignition location, the location of structure vents and the size of the structure. If the gas accumulates in a confined space before igniting, the pressure can cause damage to the structure from the explosive forces.
It is important to properly inspect and maintain equipment and storage containers that utilize or store gas.