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Natural Gas Safety

Natural gas, in its purest form, has no smell. However, Citizens like other gas utilities adds a very distinct odorant to the gas, called mercaptan, that smells like rotten eggs or sulfur, whereby detecting a leak is generally very easy (see additional information below). Beyond the smell, signs of an outdoor gas leak can include patches of dead grass or vegetation, blowing dirt, bubbling water or a hissing sound. While natural gas is safe when used properly, leaking gas in a confined space can be dangerous. That's why it is important to follow all of the tips on this page.

In the event a gas leak is detected inside of a home or business:

  • Leave the home or business of the gas leak immediately, as well as areas where the odor of gas is noticeable
  • Do not use the phone or a cell phone while in the building. If you notice the leak while talking on the phone, do not hang up
  • Do not turn any lights, appliances or any electrical sources on or off
  • Do not light matches
  • Do not open or close windows
  • Do not start a vehicle if it's parked in a garage that's attached to the home/business of the suspected leak nor utilize an automatic garage door opener upon exiting
  • Call Citizens at 317-924-3311 from somewhere other than the location of the gas leak
In the event a gas line has been struck or ruptured outside of a home or business: 
  • Leave the area of the gas leak immediately, as well as areas where the odor of gas is noticeable
  • Do not attempt to re-start or move powered equipment
  • Call Citizens at 317-924-3311 from somewhere other than the location of the gas leak. The party responsible for the damage to the gas line should also call 911 and report the incident to police and/or fire officials
  • Alert neighboring property owners of the potential leak
  • Remain in a safe area until emergency personnel arrive and do not enter the home/business or neighboring premises

Odorant Fade Warning

Be aware that the mercapatan added to gas to make it detectable may not warn of a gas leak or the presence of propane or natural gas to all persons in every instance. Instances where the odorant in an odorized gas may be undetectable include:

  • Odor intensity may fade or be eliminated for a variety of chemical and physical causes, including the oxidation of rusting pipes, adsorption into or sticking onto the interior of pipes or appliances, or absorption into liquids.
  • Contact with soil in underground leaks may de-odorize or remove odorant from the gas.
  • Some people have a diminished ability, or inability to smell mercaptan. Factors that negatively affect a person’s sense of smell include age, gender, medical conditions, and alcohol/tobacco usage.
  • The smell of odorized gas may not awaken sleeping persons.
  • Other odors may mask or hide the smell.
  • Exposure to the odor for even a short period of time, may cause nasal fatigue, where a person can no longer smell the odor. Gas detectors listed by the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) can be used as an extra measure of safety for detecting gas leaks, especially under conditions where the odorant alone may not provide an adequate warning. Gas detectors emit a loud, shrill sound when gas is present and do not depend on sense of smell. Because the odor intensity can fade or people may have problems with their sense of smell, we recommend installing, per manufacturer’s instructions, one or more combustible gas detectors, in suitable locations to ensure adequate coverage to detect gas leaks. Educate yourself, your employees, and your customers with the content of this warning and other important facts associated with the so-called “odor-fade phenomenon.”