Wednesday’s explosion that leveled two apartment buildings prompted authorities to ask 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 Con Ed, the utility serving the affected neighborhood in East Harlem.
Con Ed says anyone smelling an odor suspected to be natural gas should first leave the premises, taking others with them. “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 cell phone, and ringing doorbells.”
Once evacuees are a safe distance away, a report should be made to Con Ed via a special phone number — 800-752-6633. New York City says to call 911 also.
Con Ed describes natural gas as a safe and reliable fuel, but notes that leaks can cause explosions.
“That’s why a strong rotten egg odor 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.”