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COLUMBUS -- With winter officially upon us and colder temperatures setting in, now is the time of year when we are most reliant on natural gas to keep our homes comfortable.

Natural gas is safe and reliable, but for a variety of reasons, leaks can sometimes occur. Natural gas is also colorless and odorless in its purest form, but Columbia Gas adds an odorant – mercaptan – to give it that distinctive sulfur-like rotten egg smell.

If you ever smell this odor, STOP what you are doing. Don't open the windows. Don’t use anything that could cause a spark, like a phone, light switch, appliance, or flashlight. Don’t start your car or use your garage door. LEAVE the area immediately and from a safe place CALL 911 and Columbia Gas of Ohio at 1-800-344-4077.

Crews will respond 24/7/365 to investigate and make the situation safe. Even if you aren’t certain there is a leak, Columbia Gas always prefers customers err on the side of caution and call. Potential leaks should never be ignored, and there is never a charge for crews to respond.

Other signs of a natural gas leak may include blowing dirt, bubbling water, dead vegetation, or a hissing/roaring sound.

Tips for preventing natural gas leaks in and around the home:

 Ensure natural gas appliances are up-to-date and inspected regularly.

 Never use a gas stove or range top as a space heater.

 Always call 811 before digging.

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