What to do in case of a natural gas leak

DENVER — Xcel Energy offers information about what to do if you suspect there is a natural gas leak in your home.  Tip number 1 is call 911 in an emergency.

Learn to recognize a natural gas leak

It is important for you to know how to recognize potentially dangerous natural gas leaks, so use your senses:

  1. Smell: Because natural gas has no odor in its natural state, we add a harmless odorant called mercaptan to it to help you detect a leak. Many people describe the odor of mercaptan similar to rotten eggs or sulfur, but it may smell differently to you. It may also be a strong smell from an unknown source.
  2. Hear: A natural gas leak may produce a noise that ranges from next to nothing to a slight hissing or blowing sound to a loud roar.
  3. See: A leak also may cause dust, dirt or debris to fly, or create blowing or continuous bubbling movement in water. It also can cause a spot of dead or discolored vegetation in an otherwise green area.

How to respond to a natural gas leak

If you suspect a gas leak, get everyone out of your home or building right away, move a safe distance away, and then call for help. Because an electric spark can ignite an explosion, remember to follow these tips:

  • Do not turn on or turn off electrical switches.
  • Avoid using electric appliances such as garage door openers or telephones of any type.
  • Do not start up or shut down motor vehicles or any other electrical equipment.
  • Do not strike a match.
  • Avoid open flames or other ignition sources.
  • Move to a location a safe distance away from your home or building when the odor is outdoors.
  • Call Xcel Energy at 1-800-895-2999 or 911 in an emergency.
  • Stay away until Xcel Energy or the emergency responders have told you it is safe to return.

Prevent potentially dangerous natural gas conditions by calling before you dig to avoid digging into or nicking a buried gas line. It also is a wise and effective safety measure to maintain gas appliances properly and hire a qualified contractor to routinely inspect them to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

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