Gas leak knowledge helps family avert potential danger

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As a Gas marketing program manager for DTE Energy, Rosana Laurain hears about natural gas safety all the time. It’s a good thing because she put that knowledge to use last August to help avoid a potentially dangerous situation involving her family.

“It was a nice day, so we had the windows open in the house to get some fresh air,” said Rosana. “Later, we decided to eat dinner outside on our deck. My sister was there with her kids as well as my family. My mother, who lives with us, was on the deck, too.

“We were talking about what a comfortable day it was and how nice it was to have the windows open, when my mother said, ‘Yes, I was so glad it was a nice morning because I smelled gas again in my bedroom and cranked open the window.’”

Rosana was shocked and asked her mother why she hadn’t told her about the gas odor before.

“I didn’t think it was a big deal and just cracked open the window a bit,” her mom replied.

Remembering what she learned about natural gas safety, Rosana immediately declared the house off limits, kept everyone outside and called her local gas utility. It was determined that the leak was coming from the gas line that fed a small heater in her mother’s bedroom.

“The heater was there when we bought the house,” Rosana said. “The bedroom was added to the original home, but we hadn’t used the heater since we moved in a little more than a year ago. We were using an electric heater, if needed, instead of the gas heater until we could get it checked out.”

The gas was turned off and the heater was repaired, but the incident is still fresh in Rosana’s mind.

“The alarming thing was the casual way in which my mother told me about the leak – almost as if it was a passing thought,” Rosana said. “If we hadn’t all been eating dinner together, I don’t know when I would have learned of the leak.

“Many people have the same reaction as my mom – they just don’t realize the seriousness of a gas leak. I understand it because of my job. My family thought I was overreacting, but I knew better. If you suspect a gas leak – even if you’re not sure – immediately leave the home and call your local gas company and have them investigate. Don’t take chances.”

DTE Energy customers who detect a natural gas leak should leave the area immediately. From a distance where you no longer smell gas, call 911 and then the DTE Energy Gas Leak Line at 800.947.5000.