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What to do during a chemical release

What should I do if I smell gas?

  1. Leave the building or area immediately.
  2. Call 9-1-1 using a neighbour’s phone or a cell phone – AWAY from the ruptured gas line.
If you or a family member experience respiratory distress, call 9-1-1. Those with chronic conditions and breathing difficulties may be more affected and should seek medical attention as soon as possible.

In case of a hazardous chemical release, such as a sour gas leak, you may be instructed to evacuate or “shelter-in-place.” This means take immediate shelter indoors where you are – at home, at school, or at work. Act quickly when told to “shelter-in-place,” and follow the instructions of local authorities. You will be notified when it is safe to come out. Usually this will only be for a few hours. Shelter-in-place techniques are used not only for sour gas emergencies, but any emergency involving a hazardous substance release.

How do I shelter-in-place?

  1. Turn off any appliances that circulate air throughout your home. These include fans, air conditioners, heaters, and your furnace.
  2. Close all windows and doors. The best place to shelter is in a room with few windows or doors. Shelter in an interior room (one without windows, if possible) that is above ground level. Bring your 72-hour emergency preparedness kit with you.
  3. Seal the room with damp towels at the base of the door. Breathe through a damp towel to filter the air.
  4. Monitor your television, radio or calgary.ca until you are told all is safe, or until you are advised to evacuate.

What is sour gas?

Sour gas is natural gas with more than a one per cent concentration of hydrogen sulphide (H2S). Natural gas is not poisonous or harmful with minimal exposure. Natural gas supplied to your home has a small amount of H2S added to it so you can smell if there is a leak (by its distinctive “rotten egg” smell). The concentration of H2S in the natural gas supplied to your home is not harmful provided you leave your home immediately if you smell it.

How can I protect myself?

Be aware of the risks in your neighbourhood. Gas wells are present in all quadrants of Calgary, but sour gas wells are generally concentrated on the east side of the city. Although the risk of any sort of problem with a sour gas well is very low, it is best to be informed. Each facility with a sour gas well must post a sign with the name and contact information of the operator. Contact the operator directly for more information on a particular well and their emergency procedures.

What do I need to know about natural gas?

Natural gas is not poisonous or harmful with minimal exposure, including limited inhalation. However, natural gas is highly flammable and can ignite easily. A build-up of natural gas in an enclosed space can cause an explosion. Natural gas supplied to your home has a small amount of H2S added to it so you can smell if there is a leak (by its distinctive “rotten egg” smell). The concentration of H2S in the natural gas supplied to your home is not harmful provided you leave your home immediately if you smell it.