Rotten-egg scratch-and-sniff coming in gas bills

Customers of Puget Sound Energy will be getting a little something extra in October’s bill.

And it stinks.

The company is sending a scratch-and-sniff pamphlet with a rotten egg smell to help people recognize natural gas leaks. The goal is to help people detect actual gas leaks and report them.

“Every family needs to know that ‘rotten egg’ odor of natural gas so they can recognize, react and report a gas leak around their home or elsewhere,” said Andy Wappler, vice president of corporate affairs for PSE, said in a statement. “Safety comes first, and having your family know what to do is our top priority.”

The company, which has more than 126,600 natural gas customers in Snohomish County, and other utility companies add an odorant, called mercaptan, to natural gas, which is naturally odorless and colorless. That odorant helps alert people to leaks of the highly combustible natural gas.

Smell isn’t the only way to determine that a gas leak is occurring. A hissing sound or blowing dirt might also indicate a possible leak.

People who think they are being exposed to a natural gas leak should go to a safe location and call 911 or the company at 1-888-225-5773. They also shouldn’t use use phones, turn any electric switches, appliances or lights on or off. And they shouldn’t smoke, light a match, use a lighter or do anything that might create a spark.

The pamphlet also urges people to call 811 two days before digging to prevent damage to underground utility lines.

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