Smell gas? Move fast

Woman holding nose

Detecting a gas leak
Because natural gas is colorless and has no scent, we add a strong odorant that smells like rotten eggs to help you detect a possible gas leak. If you suspect a gas leak, call 1-800-ALLIANT (800-255-4268) immediately. We will investigate it for free. 

Signs of a natural gas leak or damaged pipeline
The unintentional release of natural gas is dangerous to you, the public and could result in fire, explosions, injury or death. Take action by calling Alliant Energy if you:

  • Hear hissing, roaring or whistling sounds near a gas appliance, meter or pipeline.
  • See blowing dirt, bubbling water or discolored vegetation in an otherwise green area. Or see a gas meter dial that continues to move after all natural gas appliances and equipment have been shut off.  
  • Smell the odor of rotten eggs. If you don’t know the scent, contact us for a free scratch-and-sniff card. 

If you hit a pipeline ...

Call 1-800-ALLIANT (800-255-4268) if your digging equipment or tools contact our underground pipelines or electrical lines. Even minor damage such as nicks, scratches, cuts, scrapes, dents and gouges can result in pipeline failure, electric shock or a major incident in the future, if not properly assessed. If you hear blowing gas, which is a more serious problem, call 911 immediately from a safe location.

Gas safety tips

  • A qualified professional should check your gas appliances annually. Inspections keep gas appliances safe and efficient, and they reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Snow and ice can damage gas meters and pipes. Use a broom to keep gas service equipment clear during the winter.
  • Vents for gas appliances must be cleared following a major snow or ice storm to enable proper venting and prevent carbon monoxide accumulation.
  • Never place a fire pit above a buried line! If the fire gets too hot, it could cause the gas pipeline below it to leak or melt. Call 811 to have the underground lines located on your property.
  • Every home should have natural gas detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.

How we’re working to keep natural gas safe

We provide training and education on natural gas to keep our employees, customers and communities safe. We continually seek out new technologies in pipeline design, construction, inspections and operations to make delivery of natural gas safe, cost-effective and secure.

Staying safe is a community effort

We consider emergency and public officials our partners in prevention. We share information and participate in meetings with emergency officials to help them understand the risks of natural gas and how to respond to a pipeline emergency.

Look for pipeline markers

  • Pipeline markers indicate the approximate location of buried pipelines. 
  • A toll-free number (1-800-255-4268) is provided to report problems.
  • They are typically placed at public road crossings, fence lines and street intersections. 

In most cases, the natural gas distribution pipelines do not have pipeline markers inside urban service areas. To identify where any type of pipeline is located, call 811 before you dig. 

Visit the National Pipeline Mapping System to learn who operates transmission pipelines in your area. 

Do I need a natural gas detector?

Although Alliant Energy adds a distinctive odor to natural gas as a safety precaution in the detection of a leak, your sense of smell might not be enough to discover it. 

  • Strong smells in the area, like cooking or chemical odors, can mask the smell of natural gas. 
  • Prolonged exposure to the same smell can desensitize you to it (called olfactory fatigue).
  • Certain conditions in the soil or pipes can cause the natural gas odor to fade or be stripped out of the gas so that it is not readily detectable.

Individuals with a known inability to smell are especially at risk. If this is you, don’t take chances. Get a natural gas detector, and make sure it has the Underwriters Laboratories Stand 2034 (UL) stamp on the box or in the product description.

If you suspect a gas leak follow these do’s and don’ts

What to do:

  • Make sure gas appliances are turned all the way off. 
  • Contractors: Turn off and abandon equipment.
  • IMMEDIATELY evacuate everyone from the building or area.
  • Leave the door open as you exit.
  • Leave the area and warn others to stay away.
  • Call 1-800-ALLIANT from a remote location. Do not return until we confirm it is safe. 
  • If you hear gas hissing or blowing, which is a more serious issue, evacuate to a remote location and call 911.

What not to do:

  • Do not try to find or repair the leak or extinguish a burning gas leak.
  • Do not move appliances or machinery.
  • Do not start an engine of any kind.
  • Do not strike matches or create a flame of any kind.
  • Do not use a telephone or cellphone (these can ignite gases or vapors).
  • Do not turn on or off any light or electrical switches or garage door openers (these also can ignite airborne gases).

Avoid disaster! Call 811 and know what’s below

Do you know where utility lines are buried on your property? 

Although accidents are relatively rare, damage from digging is the most common cause of underground natural gas leaks.  

Three steps you must follow before you dig:

  1. Call 811 before you dig. 811 is the national phone number that initiates the process of locating and marking the underground utility lines in your yard or at your job. Dial 811 at least three business days before your dig.
  2. Wait for the utility lines to be marked. The 811 center personnel notify area utilities, such as Alliant Energy, to mark the approximate locations of buried gas or electric lines with high-visibility safety paint and/or flags. There is no charge for this service. Locators will not mark privately owned fuel lines, like those running to a garage, pool or fireplace.
  3. Respect the marks or flags, then dig with care. When you start digging, stay at least 18 inches away from the marked lines. Hand digging with extreme caution is required when digging within the 18-inch tolerance zone.