Mackenzie Stamets and Lili Monroe are fifth graders at Harris Elementary School. Earlier in the school year, NIPSCO came to their classroom and talked to them about the smell of natural gas, and how to spot a leak. This lesson ended up being very helpful for these two young girls.
On March 22nd, the two were riding their bikes in Mackenzie’s neighborhood when they noticed the smell of rotten eggs. They waited a minute at first, then realized this is what they learned about in school. They decided they needed to tell someone.
They rushed home to Mackenzie’s mom to tell her they recognized the smell of natural gas in the neighbor’s yard. Mackenzie’s mom, Rebecca, called 811 right away. She felt thankful for her daughter’s willingness to speak up when she knew something wasn’t right.
“Sometimes as a parent, we’re so wrapped up in life and other things, that it’s nice to have that second eye on things.” Rebecca said.
NIPSCO came out to the neighborhood and found a gas leak right next door to the Stamets’ house.
NIPSCO is the natural gas and electric provider for the northern 30 counties in Indiana, including Allen County.
Dana Berkes, Public Affairs Manager for NIPSCO, told WANE 15 about the importance of educating elementary school students on natural gas safety. She said they focus on the fourth grade class, the age where they are old enough to listen and remember. The program they started 3 years ago is called Energy Safe Kids. Scratch and sniffs are what helped the girls in this situation.
“They just talked to us about the natural gasses and what to do when you smell them, and to call 811, and they gave us scratch and sniffs, and then we realized the smell from those.” Mackenzie said.
There are many lessons that kids learn during these classes, such as other signs of a natural gas leak.
“Look, see, smell, and hear. So there might be a hissing sound in the case of a natural gas release. It smells bad so that’s the biggest one. You can see, if there’s a gas leak there might be dead or dying vegetation around the gas leak. Then you can also see it in some cases.” Berkes said.
Rebecca was very thankful that her daughter has learned this lesson. She said they go over things like what to do in the situation of a fire, but they have never talked about natural gas at home. NIPSCO is happy they were a big help in this situation.
“It’s great news. To have the programs in the classrooms, and then have a tangible, measurable outcome from it. Certainly wonderful to hear.” Berkes said.