From: Virginia Tech Facilities and Emergency Management

Could you recognize the telltale signs of a natural gas leak?  If the answer is yes, do you know what to do next?

The Facilities Department is sharing important reminders from Atmos Energy about natural gas safety. Below you’ll find details on how to recognize a gas leak, actions to take if you ever smell natural gas, and potential natural gas hazards.

Recognizing a gas leak

Natural gas in its original form has no smell or color. That’s why a “rotten egg” odor is added to make people aware if gas is leaking. Listen for a hissing or whistling sound near a pipeline or look for blowing dust, bubbling water or dead vegetation near a gas line.

Actions to take if you smell natural gas

Leave the area immediately and tell others to leave the area, too.  Outside is the safest place to be when gas leaks indoors. Leave any doors open. Do not turn on or off any electric switch; this could cause a spark, igniting the gas. Do not use a cell phone, telephone, garage door opener, doorbell or even a flashlight. Do not smoke, use a lighter or strike a match.  Do not start or stop a nearby vehicle or machinery. Do not try to shut off a natural gas valve. Immediately call 911 and Atmos Energy at 1-866-322-8667. Do not reenter the area until you receive an all-clear from emergency personnel.

Potential natural gas hazards

Escaping natural gas is highly-flammable; it can easily ignite and burn. Natural gas can migrate into voids underground and openings, such as sewer lines. Natural gas that has accumulated in an area can explode if a spark or other source of ignition occurs. Leaking natural gas can also cause an explosion. Natural gas may displace oxygen in a confined space and can cause asphyxiation. Natural gas in many large transmission pipelines is not odorized and has no smell or color.

Spreading the word on natural gas safety

It is important to familiarize yourself with the telltale signs of a gas leak, and know the steps to take if one occurs — most importantly, be sure to leave the area and call 911 immediately. You can also download the LiveSafe app for information about evacuation before and during an incident. Share this information with others and encourage them to familiarize themselves with these steps as well.