Natural Gas Public Awareness

GAS Public Awareness

What is Natural Gas?

Natural gas (methane, CH4) comes from the decomposed remains of ancient plants and animals. The erosion process carried these biological remains down rivers and streams onto shorelines, where they were deposited along with mud and silt. Intense heat and pressure transformed these fossils into hydrocarbons- chemical compounds of hydrogen and carbon atoms. Depending on the arrangement of the atoms, what were once sea plants and animals are now natural gas or crude oil deposits contained in the earth’s crust.

History of Natural Gas

Centuries ago, man noticed that lightning ignited natural gas seeping from the ground and creating a “burning spring.” Burning springs of natural gas were prominent in religious practices of ancient Persia, Greece, and India, where temples were constructed around these “eternal flames.” However, they did not recognize the energy value or potential usefulness of natural gas. Ancient Chinese realized that natural gas could work for them. About 500 B.C., they used natural gas to make portable water by piping it from shallow wells through bamboo poles to evaporate salt from sea water.

The birthplace of natural gas in America is Fredonia, New York . In 1821, Fredonia residents observed gas bubbles rising to the surface from a creek. William Hart dug the first natural gas well in America along a creek outside Fredonia. The well was approximately 27 feet deep. (By contrast, today’s wells are over 30, 000 feet deep.)

Other individuals expanded upon his work and a group of entrepreneurs formed the Fredonia Gas Light Company, our nation’s first natural gas company. Natural gas drilling continued throughout western New York, Pennsylvania, northern Ohio, and northern Indiana. By 1900, natural gas was discovered in 17 states.

Natural gas continued to aggressively compete with manufactured gas into the 1920’s. In the 1950’s, interstate pipelines reached across the entire continent to provide competitive, naturally occurring natural gas, and manufactured gas’ dominance declined. America’s interstate pipeline system now contains over one million miles of pipe that deliver large quantities of clean, efficient and cost-effective natural gas to different regions.

Natural Gas Facts
  • Natural gas is lighter than air, non-toxic and contains no poisonous ingredients. Breathing natural gas is not harmful as long as there is an adequate supply of air to breathe along with it.
  • Natural gas by itself will not burn. Combustion can occur only when there is a mixture of gas and air containing between 5% and 15% natural gas and between 95% and 85% air.
  • Natural gas in its natural state is odorless. An odor that smells like rotten eggs is added to natural gas so that you can smell it.
  • Because of its unique qualities of being lighter than air with a narrow band of combustion, natural gas is one of the safest energy sources available. Understanding and following safety procedures will make it even safer.

Natural gas has an odor similar to rotten eggs so that even the smallest leaks can be detected. 


  • Ensure everyone leaves the home/building immediately.
  • Leave the door open.
  • Use a neighbor’s phone or cellular phone outside of the building to call Ripley Gas & Water at (731) 635-1212 or (731) 413-8680.
  • DO NOT use the telephone in the building.
  • DO NOT operate any electrical switches, appliance controls, or pull any plugs from outlets.
  • Close the cut-off valve near the gas meter and DO NOT turn it on again.
  • If possible, ventilate the building by opening the doors and windows at top and bottom.  Start where odor is strongest.  DO NOT re-enter the building for this purpose.

Please note: There is no charge for calling the gas company to check for a gas leak.
We are available to immediately respond 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.

Call Before You Dig

We would like to remind you of the importance of having natural gas lines located, free of charge, before doing any digging. Each year accidental line breaks of natural gas pipelines and other utilities result in disruption of services, millions of dollars in damages, serious injuries, and sometimes loss of life. Don’t take chances…call in a locate request to Tennessee One Call at 1-800-351-1111 or simply call 811 at least 72 hours before you dig. We’ll show you or your contractor where the gas lines are located and help you avoid any problems. So, don’t dig blind, give Tennessee One Call a call.

  • Note: All digging in the vicinity of piping should be carefully done by hand. This will avoid the inconvenience of disrupted service, personal injury and expensive repairs. Violation of the “Call before you Dig” Act is a Class A misdemeanor and subject to a fine up to $2,500 and/or imprisonment for 48 hours. If a gas main or service line is exposed during digging, call Ripley Gas, Water & Wastewater. Proper attention to pipe that has been exposed will prevent problems later.
Customer Owned Line Responsibility

Federal Regulation Number 192.16 requires that we notify you to exercise diligence regarding underground or buried gas piping. Buried pipe may be subject to leakage and/or corrosion (corrosion may occur on metallic pipe) and could potentially be subject to hazards if not maintained.

Remember that any and all gas pipe downstream of the gas meter (the “building” side) belongs to you, the gas customer, and the gas customer is responsible for maintenance and operation of this portion of the fuel line system. We do not own the gas beyond the meter; therefore we do not routinely maintain or locate fuel lines. Commercial plumbers and/ or heating contractors may be contacted when gas fuel lines need attention.

Buried gas piping should be:

  • Periodically inspected for leaks
  • Periodically inspected for corrosion if the piping is metallic
  • Repaired if any unsafe condition is discovered, or the flow of gas should be shut off
  • When excavation is performed or is about to be performed near the buried gas piping, the piping should be located and marked in advance, and any excavating performed near the pipe should be done by hand. 
Natural Gas Appliance Safety
  • To ensure safety and efficiency, have your furnace, water heater and other natural gas appliances inspected by a licensed technician once a year.
  • Also, do not store flammable liquids, paint or other flammable materials near a furnace, stove or water heater.
  • Keep the lint trap on your gas dryer clean and the exhaust hose clear.
Hot Water Safety

Natural gas water heaters are a fast, efficient way to heat the water in your home. But with any water heater, parents should exercise caution when using hot water around small children, especially in the bath tub.

Tips for hot water safety in the bathtub

  • To avoid scalding hot water in the bathtub and sinks, keep your water heater set at a maximum of 120 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in an apartment building, ask your landlord or property manager to check the building’s water heater. (It’s also a great way to conserve energy.)
  • Fill the bathtub by first turning on the cold water, then add hot water. When the tub is almost filled, turn off the hot water. Then, turn off the cold water.
  • Before you place your child in the tub, put your hand all the way in the water. Spread your fingers. Move your hand back and forth throughout the length of the tub to check for hot spots
  • Always stay with the child. Don’t answer the phone or door. If you must leave the bathroom, take your child with you.
Space Heater Safety

Ripley Gas & Water does not recommend the use of space heaters. However, if you choose to use a space heater, please be safe.

  • Fires and explosions can be caused by flammable fuels or defective wiring.
  • Read and follow the manufacturers’ operating instructions.
  • Use space heaters that are tested and labeled by a nationally recognized testing lab.
  • Keep space heaters away from combustible products to avoid fire.
  • Indoor air pollution could be caused by improper venting or incomplete combustion.
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning is caused by improper venting of fuel burning space heaters.
  • Space heaters should have a guard around the flame or coil area to protect children and pets.
  • Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
  • Do not use space heaters overnight in bedrooms or any room where you may sleep.
Carbon Monoxide Safety
  • Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas produced when fuels such as gasoline, fuel oil, propane, kerosene, natural gas, charcoal and wood do not have an adequate oxygen supply to burn completely.
  • The most common sources are automobiles, and furnaces and boilers that haven’t been properly maintained.
  • An estimated 10, 000 people are treated annually nationwide for carbon monoxide poisoning—the most common cause was being vehicle fumes.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

  • Flu-like symptoms: nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, vomiting, confusion.
  • In many cases, victims are aware they are not well, but become too disoriented to save themselves.
  • Particularly vulnerable are pregnant women. Also: small children, senior citizens and people with heart or respiratory problems.

Safety tips

  • Have professional annual inspections and cleanings of heating systems, vents, flues and chimneys.
  • Occasionally conduct your own visual inspections. Look for improper connections, rust, stains or water build up.
  • Never leave a car running in a garage.
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home, especially near bedrooms. Alarms should meet requirements of the International Approval Services Standard. Alarms can be recognized by the blue star, AGA (American Gas Association) design on the package.

If you suspect carbon monoxide, get fresh air and call 911.


Monday–Thursday: 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Friday: 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


116 Church Street, Ripley, TN 38063
(731) 635-1212