Learning how to be safe around natural gas is important. This is why we are dedicated to providing you with safety information. We also train our employees to use the best methods to prevent, detect, and stop natural gas pipeline leaks. We work closely with fire departments, other emergency responders, and public officials to ensure that our operations are safe. We also make detailed plans to protect the public and the environment in case of an emergency.
Pipelines carry natural gas around the clock to more than 76 million homes and businesses in the United States. Because they are underground, you seldom notice these energy superhighways. In fact, pipelines are one of the safest forms of transportation. They are involved in far fewer serious incidents than trucks, railroads, ships, or airplanes.
To protect you and others, we want you to know what to do if you ever smell natural gas and how to prevent incidents involving natural gas pipelines.
Federal and state regulations require utilities to odorize natural gas so that “the gas is readily detectable by a person with a normal sense of smell.” Our technicians routinely monitor the odorant concentration with instruments throughout our pipeline system.
The sense of smell for most people is a highly reliable indicator of a natural gas release. However, continued exposure to the odorant can desensitize the sense of smell. Additionally, the smell of natural gas can be masked by other odors in the area. In certain rare situations, the odor intensity can be diminished by physical and/or chemical processes, such as when gas passes through certain soil conditions.
If you suffer from loss of smell, olfactory fatigue or recurrent ailments, such as colds, sinus conditions or allergies, you might have a diminished capability to detect a natural gas leak. The Center for Disease Control has identified the loss of smell as a potential symptom of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19. Using tobacco, alcohol, medications or narcotics can lessen your ability to smell odorized gas.
Smell gas? Act fast! If you suspect a natural gas leak, leave the area immediately! From a safe distance call 911 and Atmos Energy's 24-hour toll-free emergency number at 866.322.8667. Do not rely on your sense of smell alone to detect the presence of natural gas: use any of your senses —smell, listen or look—to check for telltale signs of a leak.
In addition, residential methane detectors are available and can provide an additional ability to detect the presence of gas. These alarms must be selected and installed according to the manufacturer's instructions. Learn more at the Gas Technology Institute.
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