What does natural gas smell like?
In its pure form, natural gas is odorless. We add a harmless odorizing agent that produces a distinctive, pungent smell that reminds some of sulfur or rotten eggs. This makes it possible for you to detect even a small leak.
Use caution! A natural gas leak can cause an explosion if ignited by a spark. If you smell gas in your home, leave your house immediately and call 911 and your service providers emergency service number from another location such as a neighbor’s house.
Cardinal Natural Gas Company, Southern Division (Bluefield WV Service Area) 304-325-9164
Cardinal Natural Gas Company, Northern Division (Lumberport Shinnston Service Area) 800-618-0050
For your own safety, remember these rules in the event you smell gas.
- Do not use your electric garage door opener to leave your house. Any motorized appliance could spark, igniting the natural gas.
- Do not use your phone to call us unless you are outside and away from your house. Using any type of telephone could ignite the leaking gas.
- Do not turn any light switches or other electrical devices on or off. Anything electrical, even something as small as a thermostat, may cause a spark and ignite leaking gas.
- Do not try to relight the pilot light. Leave gas furnaces, water heaters, and other gas appliances alone until you are certain that it is safe.
- Do not smoke cigarettes or light candles. Using a lighter or a match could ignite the leaking gas.
Is Natural Gas Safe?
Natural gas has a very limited range of flammability. This means that it takes just the right mixture of air and natural gas before it can burn. Also, natural gas is lighter than air, so it usually will safely rise and disperse into the air if it is allowed to vent freely. Even with this in mind, it is very important to understand natural gas and to be aware of safety tips concerning its use. Most accidents occur because of lack of knowledge that leads to unsafe equipment or appliances, not because natural gas itself is unsafe.
Safety is the highest priority for the natural gas industry and work is continually being done in that area. We are committed to promoting positive safety cultures among our employees throughout the natural gas distribution industry. All employees, as well as contractors and suppliers providing services to our members, are expected to place the highest priority on employee, customer, public and pipeline safety.
When it comes to safety, the natural gas industry has an excellent record, which is the result of extensive industry safety programs, overseen by state officials and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) under the Congressional Pipeline Inspection, Protection, Enforcement and Safety Act of 2006. More than $7 billion is spent each year to ensure that natural gas is delivered safely and efficiently.
Natural gas utilities and pipelines undertake a wide range of pipeline integrity, pipeline safety and public education programs. The design, construction, operation, inspection and maintenance of all operating pipelines are subject to state and federal regulations and requirements.
The inspection and maintenance performed by operators takes in account all of the following: incident and leak history, corrosion control records, continuing surveillance records, patrolling records, maintenance history, local conditions, and excavation damage experience.
- Do not operate electrical switches or appliances. These items may produce a spark that might ignite the gas and cause an explosion.
- Do not use a telephone.
- Do not light a match or smoke and extinguish any open flames.
- Do not assume someone else will report the condition.
- Do not open windows and doors to ventilate the area.
- Provide CNG with the exact location, including cross streets.
- Let us know if sewer construction or digging activities are going on in the area.
Natural gas is considered the cleanest fossil fuel because it produces emissions much lower than those of other fossil fuels like coal or oil.
Natural gas is efficient. 92 percent of the natural gas produced is delivered to customers as usable energy. (In contrast, 32 percent of the total energy used to generate electricity from coal reaches consumers.)
Conservation and Efficiency
America’s natural gas customers are leading the way on carbon reductions and energy efficiency. In fact, despite a significant increase in the number of homes using natural gas, greenhouse gas emissions have decreased 40 percent per household since 1970.
Because of its efficiency and environmental benefits, the use of natural gas to generate electricity has increased dramatically during the past 11 years – of the more than 240 gigawatts of net summer electric generation capacity added since 1999, over 87 percent has been fueled with natural gas. Natural gas currently generates approximately 23 percent of total U.S. electricity.
Natural gas is a vital ingredient for production of many alternative and renewable energy sources. It is used to manufacture lightweight steel for fuel-efficient cars and trucks, to produce hydrogen for fuel cells, as a component of windmill blades for wind energy and to grow the corn needed for ethanol.
Use your senses to detect gas leaks. A natural gas leak is usually recognized by smell, sight, or sound. Remember, if you smell natural gas, get up, get out and call us immediately from a neighbor’s phone.
Natural gas is colorless and odorless. For your safety, a distinctive, pungent odor, similar to rotten eggs, is added so that you’ll recognize it quickly. Not all transmission lines are odorized.
You may see a white cloud, mist, fog, bubbles in standing water or blowing dust. You may also see vegetation that appears to be dead or dying for no apparent reason.
You may hear an unusual noise like roaring, hissing, or whistling.