Chatham Emergency Services Update

By Carey Ruppert - cruppert@chathames.org
Chief, Southside Division

What if I Smell Gas?

Natural gas can be a safe, convenient, and affordable source of energy. Unfortunately, it also can be quite dangerous. In high enough concentrations, natural gas is extremely flammable, and if ignited can cause an explosion. High concentrations of gas can cause physical symptoms, ranging from headaches and nausea to death from asphyxiation. In other words, a natural gas leak is something that we take very seriously, and we urge you to do the same.

In its original state, natural gas or methane is a colorless, odorless gas. In order to make it more easily detectible, the gas company adds mercaptan, a non-toxic chemical that gives natural gas a strong rotten egg smell. If your gas lines are intact and your appliances are working properly, this rotten egg smell should not be present. If it is, you might have a gas leak.

Dos and Don’ts if You Suspect an Inside Gas Leak:

DO

  • Immediately evacuate all people and animals from the building.
  • Call Chatham Emergency Services (355-6688) after reaching a safe location.
  • Warn others to stay clear of the area.
  • Remain close by until fire personnel have made contact. Your first-hand account is vital to our locating the problem.

DON’T

  • Enter your home if you notice a strong gas odor or if there is other evidence of a natural gas leak.
  • Use a telephone, either landline or cellular, from within the area of the leak.
  • Smoke or use an open flame.
  • Operate any electrical switches or appliances, as it could create a spark. This includes your doorbell and garage door opener.
  • Try to find the leak yourself. Leave that to us.
  • Open your windows. This will slow down the process of locating the leak.
  • Re-enter your home until either Chatham Emergency Services or the gas company has declared it to be safe.

Most outside gas leaks are caused by contractors or homeowners digging and accidentally cutting a gas line. This can be avoided by contacting Georgia 811 (1-800-282-7411) to have buried utility lines marked. In fact, Georgia law requires that Georgia 811 be contacted at least 48 hours prior to any mechanized digging or excavation.

In the event there is an outside gas leak, have all personnel leave the area of the leak and call Chatham Emergency Service (355-6688).