Why does natural gas smell so bad?
In its original state, natural gas is colorless and odorless, so a chemical odorant called mercaptan is added for safety reasons. Mercaptan is non-toxic, but it stinks. That makes it easier to detect in case of a gas leak. Some people compare the smell to rotten eggs, and in a concentrated form, the stench is nearly unbearable.
How safe is natural gas?
Natural gas isn’t poisonous or toxic, unlike carbon monoxide. When handled responsibly by providers like CoServ Gas, natural gas is a clean, safe source of energy. However, it can still be dangerous in certain scenarios:
- Natural gas is highly flammable, so if a leak in an enclosed area (such as your home or office) combines with an open flame or spark, it may ignite.
- Someone in an enclosed area with a gas leak could suffocate—not because the gas is poisonous, but because natural gas displaces oxygen.
- A gas leak in an open area (such as outdoors) may ignite.
How do I recognize a gas leak?
- You smell rotten eggs.
- You see dead vegetation around a gas meter or other infrastructure.
- You see a mirage-like movement in the air. (Since natural gas is lighter than air, it rises if released.)
- You notice bubbles on the ground (if it’s raining during a gas leak).
- You hear a hissing sound.
What should I do if I suspect a gas leak?
- Leave the area immediately.
- Do not attempt to turn off the gas supply.
- Do not turn lights on or off, light a cigarette, use a cell phone, start your car’s engine, use a garage door opener or do anything else that could create a spark.
- Do not attempt to put out a fire fueled by natural gas. Call 911 instead.
- From a safe distance, call 911 or report the situation to CoServ Gas at our 24-hour emergency numbers, (940) 321-7800 or (800) 274-4014.
- We have a “zero tolerance” policy when it comes to gas leaks. We repair all of them right away.
How can I stay safe while using natural gas?
- Never leave paper, dishtowels or anything else flammable near an open flame on your stove.
- Don’t let children or pets play near a heater, furnace, water heater, stove or grill.
- Keep the area around your gas water heater or furnace clean and free of rags and flammable items, such as paint cans, spray cans and gasoline containers.
- Schedule regular maintenance on your gas appliances.
- Change your furnace filters regularly.
- Frequently inspect your grill for loose connections, which could cause a gas leak.
- Keep heaters free from any obstruction and away from flammable materials, such as curtains or clothing.
- Don’t allow children to light a gas grill without adult supervision.
- Before you leave the grill, make sure the gas is turned off.
- If you have a fireplace that operates through the use of a fireplace valve key, remove the key from your gas line valve after each use.