Superheroes power up Con Edison gas safety campaign


Pow! Zap! Well — Zap! probably isn’t a good idea, since a Zap! could mean a spark, and we’re talking about natural gas safety here.

DC Comics’ Justice League characters starĀ in a new Con Edison gas safety campaign unveiled this week at New York’s Comic Con.

The app, “Gassed,” tells an elaborate story about a nerve gas that makes its victims scream in fear before it kills them. Someone is spreading vials of this gas through Gotham. Who? Why?

Suddenly, Cyborg gets a call. “It’s — Con Edison,” he tells Superman. He’s got a Con Ed field supervisor on the line. “We’ve tried to follow our protocol on this one, but it’s — strange,” the supervisor says. It turns out the nerve gas has the same rotten egg small added to natural gas.

2015-10-08 gassed imageThe odor leads Superman to discover the secret factory where the toxin is made. Thanks to Con Edison’s evacuation protocols, everyone in the neighborhood gets away safely.”If not for an average woman calling us because she thought she smelled something — well, who knows what might have happened?” says the Con Ed supervisor.

There’s a good Poison Ivy subplot too.

Con Edison needs to hear whenever someone smells natural gas. Last year’s natural gas explosion in East Harlem, which killed eight people, injured about 70, and leveled two buildings, might have been prevented if people who smelled gas in the area had called Con Ed or 911 sooner.

Con Ed’s superhero app is in line with a Public Service Commission order in April requiring utility companies to find better ways to advise people that they need to report natural gas odors. “Recent gas-related events, in which people reported smelling gas yet did not alert the utility, reinforce the need for more effective public awareness regarding natural gas safety, particularly with respect to the importance of reporting gas odors,” the commission said.

“We were looking for a new and engaging way to get our gas safety messaging out there,” Chris Gallo, a Con Edison customer outreach manager, said of the superhero app.

Here’s the link to “Gassed” on Con Ed’s website. It’s also available free in the Apple and Android app stores.

If you smell gas in Con Ed territory, call 1-800-752-6633. If you smell gas in National Grid territory, call 718-643-4050.

About Bill Sanderson

I'm a New York-based journalist, and a former reporter at the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire, the Bergen Record in New Jersey, and the New York Post. My work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, and Politico New York. Twitter: @wpsanderson.
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