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Propane or Natural Gas: Here's how to tell if you have a gas leak and what to do next if you do

Unless you have electric appliances, many of us use propane or natural gas to heat our homes, to cook or for our water heater.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Whether you use natural gas or propane, most of us use at least one to heat our homes. Unless you have electric appliances, many of us also use propane or natural gas for our stove or water heater.


What exactly is propane gas? According to Ferrellgas' website, propane is liquefied petroleum gas or LP gas. It is safe, economical, clean-burning fuel when used properly.

Propane gas is flammable when mixed with air (oxygen) and can be ignited by many sources, including open flames, smoking materials, electrical sparks, and static electricity.

Detecting a leak

Do you smell rotten eggs? To make propane easier to detect in the event of a leak or spill, manufacturers deliberately added a chemical compound to give it a strong, unpleasant smell like rotten eggs, a skunk’s spray, or a dead animal.

If you have propane gas and smell any of the above, the company suggests you do the following safety measures:

  • Put out all smoking materials and other open flames.Don't turn on any lights, appliances, telephones, or cell phones. Flames or sparks from these sources can trigger an explosion or fire. 
  • Leave the area immediately.
  • If and only if it is safe to do so, Turn off the main gas supply valve on your tank. To shut it off, turn it clockwise.
  • Report the leak. Go to a neighbor's house to call your service provider. If you can't reach them, call 911 or go to nearby fire station.
  • Don't under any circumstance go back into the area, your house or building of the smell.

It's recommended that you have your entire propane system checked by a qualified service technician from your the company that delivers your propane.

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Do you know what to do if you have a natural gas leak?

Officials with Louisville Gas and Electric have tips to keep families safe in wake of gas leaks.

  • If you smell natural gas and can’t locate a source – leave immediately. Don’t use the phone, switch a light on or off, strike a match or spend time looking for the source.
  • Go to a neighbor’s home or an area where there’s no natural gas odor present.
  • Call LG&E 1-502-589-1444 or outside Louisville 1-800-331-7370 to report a natural gas leak.
  • Always report a natural gas leak by phone from an area where there’s no odor present. NEVER report a natural gas leak by email.

LG&E says if the gas odor is not strong it could mean that a pilot light or natural gas appliance has gone out, open doors and windows for ventilation.

Always follow their smell, sound and sight rules:

Smell: LG&E adds a distinctive, sulfur-like, rotten egg odor so you can detect even small amounts of natural gas. They say do not rely only on your sense of smell to detect the presence of natural gas.

Sight: Be aware of dirt spraying into the air, continuous bubbling in a pond or creek and dead or dying vegetation in an otherwise moist area.

Sound: Pay attention to hissing, whistling or roaring sounds coming from underground or from a gas appliance.

For more information on gas leak safety, visit LG&E's website

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