Smell gas? Get out fast

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 5, 2023

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By Nate Thompson

Service Technician for Piedmont Natural Gas 

The moment I opened my vehicle door and a smelled rotten eggs odor, my gut told me something was very wrong. 

I had just arrived at a customer’s home to investigate a natural gas leak when the natural gas odorant, mercaptan, quickly enveloped me and my vehicle. I entered the home, and the foul odor worsened.

My combustible gas indicator, which measures natural gas levels, showed dangerously high readings. I knew we need to get out, fast.

I quickly told the family to carefully evacuate the home. Outside, I put on my fire-resistant gear, called 911 and began to make the situation safe. 

When the repair was completed and the home ventilated, I asked the mother of four how long she smelled that rotten eggs odor.  

“I smelled it all day long,” she replied.

Train your nose

There are simple steps you can take to help ensure the safety of you and your family if you suspect a natural gas leak.  

First, if you smell rotten eggs — get out fast. Call Piedmont at 800-752-7504 or call 911 from a location far from the smell. 

Natural gas by itself has no smell. An odorant called mercaptan is injected into natural gas, giving it the distinctive smell of rotten eggs to make natural gas easy to detect and help avoid a potentially dangerous situation.

We immediately respond to natural gas odorant calls, and one of our trained technicians will assess or fix the situation.  

Other signs of a gas leak

Natural gas leaks can also be identified by bubbling water, blowing dirt or dead plants. It’s also possible to hear a hissing sound near a natural gas line or meter. 

October is National Fire Prevention Month, and I encourage everyone to know the signs of a natural gas leak. Remember, “if you smell natural gas, get out fast!”