Natural gas is a colorless, odorless fuel. As a safety precaution, we add a chemical odorant called mercaptan that gives natural gas an odor often associated with rotten eggs. This distinctive scent allows you to smell a potential leak if it occurs. Always leave if you suspect a leak. Natural gas is non-toxic, lighter than air and displaces oxygen. In severe cases, if not used properly, it may lead to asphyxiation, and has a risk of ignition near a spark. It's important to know that some people may not be able to detect the odorant because they have a diminished sense of smell, known as olfactory fatigue, or because the odor is being masked by other odors in the area. Certain conditions may cause the odorant to diminish so that it is not detectable.
Never try to find the leak yourself.
LOOK for discolored vegetation, blowing dirt or continued bubbling water in the area of a buried gas line.
LISTEN for a hissing sound.
SMELL for the distinctive “rotten egg” odor of natural gas.
LEAVE the area immediately, warning others in the area as you leave. Keep everyone away from the area until emergency assistance arrives.
AVOID touching anything that may cause a spark. This includes lighters, matches, cigarettes, flashlights, light switches and telephones in the area of the suspected leak. Wait until you are a safe distance away before using your cell phone.
CALL Virginia Natural Gas at 877.572.3342 and emergency responders.