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Gas emergencies: What to do if you smell gas


Did you know that natural gas doesn’t smell of anything? The reason we can smell gas is because an artificial smell is added so that we know if there’s a leak. But what should you do if you think you can smell gas?

The first thing you should do if you can smell gas is turn off the gas supply at the meter if you know how to, then open windows and doors to ventilate the property and then call the emergency helpline.

Even if you can’t smell gas but are concerned that there may be a leak or that there may be carbon monoxide present, you should call the National Gas Service Emergency Line on 0800 111 999 any time of the day or night.

Stay safe until help arrives

It’s important that you and those with you stay safe until help arrives so don’t create a flame or operate any electrical switches such as light switches. If there are any flames burning put them out and open the doors and windows. If you know how to, turn off your gas supply at the meter and don’t turn it back on again until you’ve been told it’s safe to do so.

When you call the emergency number you will be put through to a call centre where they will ask you for certain details such as:

  • The address/location of the possible gas leak – your postcode will help them to locate you.
  • Your name and phone number
  • How many people are in the property where the leak is suspected?
  • Where is the smell of gas most noticeable?
  • How long have you been able to smell the gas?
  • Can your neighbours smell gas in their property?
  • Make sure the operator knows if there are any access issues.

 A controlled or uncontrolled escape

The operator will send all the information they glean from you to an engineer. Depending on whether the gas escape is classed as a controlled escape or uncontrolled escape will dictate how long it will be before an engineer arrives.

A controlled escape is where the person who has reported the leak has been able to turn off the control valve for the premises and they can no longer smell gas. All other circumstances are regarded as an uncontrolled leak.

Most gas distribution network operators will try to have an engineer out to an uncontrolled leak within an hour and to a controlled leak within two hours.

If you smell gas or suspect a leak remember:

  1. Do not smoke or use a naked flame
  2. Do not touch any electrical switches – just turning a light switch on or off could ignite gas
  3. Do not go into a cellar if you smell gas – even if your gas meter is down there.
  4. Do open all windows and doors – this will help to disperse any fumes
  5. Do turn off the gas supply at the meter if you can – make sure gas appliances are turned off

Below is a short video by National Grid to explain what you should do if you think you can smell gas:

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