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Natural Gas: The Silent Killer

Natural gas is a colorless and odorless gas that is highly flammable. The biggest hazard that can result from a natural gas leak is an explosion; it also causes those in an exposed area to become sick. Gas companies add an odorant called mercaptan that allows a leak to be easily detected by emitting a strong sulfur, rotten egg scent. It is crucial to know how to react when exposed to natural gas in different environments.

If you are inside and smell a faint natural gas odor:

  • Turn off all burners and gas appliances completely.
  • Extinguish any ignition sources such as open flames.
  • Open all windows and doors to ventilate the area.
  • Check pilot lights on gas appliances to see if they are lit.
  • If you are unable to determine the source of the gas odor, call your gas company and report the odor.
  • Relight extinguished pilot lights only if you know how to do so safely. Otherwise, call an appliance maintenance professional.


If you are inside and smell a strong gas odor:

  • Quickly extinguish any ignition sources, such as candles, burners, or embers.
  • Evacuate the building immediately, taking all residents with you. Notify others in the area of the possible leak.
  • Do not use lights or any electrical equipment that might produce a spark.
  • Once safely outdoors and away from the building, call the gas company or 911 with a cell phone or from a neighbor’s phone to report the odor. Do not place the call from inside the building where the strong odor is occurring.
  • Do not renter the building unless instructed to do so by emergency personnel.


If you are outside and smell a strong natural gas odor or hear the sound of escaping gas:

  • Leave the area where the smell or sound is occurring.
  • Do not do anything that could create a spark, such as lighting embers, fires, or fireworks.
  • Once away from the area of smell, contact the gas company or emergency responders using a cell phone or neighbor’s phone.

KPA offers toolbox talks that educate employees on natural gas and the associated hazards. Other toolbox topics include: how to properly handle various acids and bases, carbon monoxide poisoning, and preventive safety measures.

About The Author

Toby Graham

Toby manages the marketing communications team here at KPA. She's on a quest to help people tell clear, fun stories that their audience can relate to. She's a HUGE sugar junkie...and usually starts wandering the halls looking for cookies around 3pm daily.

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