Smell gas? Here’s how to keep yourself safe and report a possible leak

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NEW YORK, N.Y. – The explosion that levelled two apartment buildings in New York on Wednesday, apparently because of a gas leak, prompted authorities to renew their appeals to the public to report possible gas leaks immediately.

“The issue is, do people know what to do when they smell gas,” said Bob McGee of Consolidated Edison, the utility serving the affected neighbourhood in Manhattan. “It’s not something you ignore.”

Con Ed offers advice to its customers that is more or less universal no matter where you live:

Anyone smelling an odour suspected to be natural gas should first leave the premises, taking others with them. In the process of evacuating, they should take precautions not to trigger a blast.

“Do not do anything to create a spark that could cause an explosion, such as lighting a match, starting a car, turning appliances, lights, or flashlights on or off, using a telephone or cellphone, and ringing doorbells,” Con Ed warns.

Once the evacuees are a safe distance away, a report should be made to the utility, though some communities may advise calling 911 instead.

Con Ed describes natural gas as a safe and reliable fuel, but notes that leaks can cause fires and explosions.

“That’s why a strong rotten egg odour is added so you can detect even small gas leaks,” the utility says. “Other signs of a leak include a white cloud, mist, fog, or bubbles in standing water and a roaring, hissing, or whistling sound.”

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