We had a scary experience Saturday evening. My husband and I went out to dinner with my brother and his wife, leaving my youngest daughter babysitting my niece and nephew. My daughter is barely old enough to babysit, but does a great job and is very responsible.
We were gone about four hours and when we arrived home, the first thing I noticed as I opened the door was that she was doing my sister-in-law's dishes. The second thing I noticed as I stepped in the house was the intense odor of natural gas. We immediately began checking the furnace and the stove to see if the pilot lights had gone out and opened all the doors and windows.
The two kids were sleeping soundly in their beds, and my daughter didn't really notice the smell until we pointed it out to her. She had been standing next to the stove for some time and the room filled with gas so gradually, she wasn't aware of it. When the gas company finally arrived, he came to the conclusion that my two-year old nephew had been playing with the dials on the stove and turned the oven knob just far enough to open the gas valve, but not far enough to turn on the oven. My daughter had turned the dial to the off position earlier, but with all the doors and windows closed, the gas had nowhere to go. There's no telling how long the gas had been leaking into the room before she turned the dial off.
Here's the ironic thing. At school on Friday morning, the gas/electric company came to the school and put on a play about the dangers of electricity, carbon monoxide, and natural gas. The only problem is that our home has never had any sort of gas leak we have an electric stove. All the descriptions of the smell of sulfur or rotten eggs didn't do a bit of good when she had never smelled either one. She knew what to do in the case of a gas leak, but she didn't recognize the smell even when it surrounded her.
Everything turned out fine. The gas company checked out all the gas appliances, we aired out the house and it ended up being a great learning experience for my daughter. Unfortunately, she suffered from over-exposure to natural gas and spent the next four hours throwing up and had a bad headache all day Sunday. I'm sure she'll be aware of odd smells the next time she finds them. We are counting our blessings that things didn't turn out worse.