The smell of natural gas

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Puget Sound Energy (PSE) hands out a small pamphlet, called "The Smell of Natural Gas ... Stinks for your safety."

They explain that natural gas is odorless, colorless, and non-toxic. They add a distinct odor called mercaptan to make it easy to detect in the case of a leak.

The pamphlet contains a "scratch and sniff" so you will know what it smells like. Sulphur. Rotten eggs. Truly foul and distinctive.

To request a gas safety brochure, complete this form or call 1-888-225-5773.

According to PSE, if you smell natural gas:

  • Leave the area immediately
  • Do not use phones, turn any electric switches on / off or use other electrically operated devices that could cause a spark.
  • Do not smoke. Avoid all open flames.
  • Use a telephone outside your home and call Puget Sound Energy 24 hours a day
    • 1-888-225-5773 or 911
You may also see or hear signs of a gas leak, including:
  • Bubbles rising in a puddle or other pool of liquid
  • Dust or dirt blowing from a hole in the ground
  • Dead or dying vegetation in unexpected locations
  • Hissing (small perforation) or roaring (large break)

In the open air, gas will dissipate quickly. It has a limited range of flammability.

In Greenwood and the recent case in Kitsap county, the gas collected in a confined space - inside a building in Greenwood and under the house in Kitsap county.

In a story we published in 2011 about a worker at Crista whose North Seattle home exploded, the couple had apparently noticed the smell but ignored it. Gas from a corroded pipe pooled under their home and exploded when the homeowner flipped the bathroom switch in the morning.


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