“Train your nose”: How to identify a natural gas leak

“Train your nose”: How to identify a natural gas leak
A boy attending the event smells the scratch and sniff activity card. (Source: WBTV)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - All it takes is a spark.

When it comes to a natural gas leak, experts say even the smallest amount of friction can cause a spark and if it’s surrounded by a natural gas leak, the end result can be deadly.

That’s what fire investigators say happened during a similar situation recently in Ballantyne. In July, after a natural gas leak filled a home while a couple was away on vacation, investigators say one of the homeowners flipped on a light switch which lead to a deadly explosion. The husband ended up in the hospital and his wife passed away during from the explosion.

The Charlotte Fire Department says natural gas leaks can happen when you least expect it, and after July’s incident, they want you to be prepared.

That’s why the department teamed up with Piedmont Natural Gas, Saturday, to host a natural gas leak awareness event. The campaign is called “Smell natural gas? Get out fast!” and it emphasizes the importance of educating homeowners and the general public on how to recognize a natural gas leak and what to do if you suspect one.

At the event, representatives from Piedmont handed out scratch-and-sniff cards to familiarize people with the rotten-egg odor of natural gas.

“The big thing about learning early is its like riding a bicycle, once you learn it you never really forget it," says Battalion Chief, Matthew Westover. “We’re out here to make people aware of things they can do in their home to be safer.”

When you scratch the card, you’ll smell rotten eggs. CFD says that’s what a natural gas leak smells like because of the sulfur gas added to the gas. If you smell that odor inside, they want you to leave the building immediately.

“We don’t want people to turn lights on, we don’t want people to make phone calls where they can smell it," says Westover. "We want people to move away from it and once you’re away from the smell where you can’t smell it any longer, then you know you’re in a safe area.”

Copyright 2019 WBTV. All rights reserved.