June 16, 2024
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BGE announes return of natural gas contest for elementary school students

BGE has announced the return of “The Adventures of Captain Mercaptan®, BGE Natural Gas Safety Hero Challenge.” The contest challenges elementary school students in BGE’s service area to submit a three-panel comic strip illustrating a natural gas safety message featuring Captain Mercaptan, BGE’s fictional natural gas safety superhero.  The top winning school receives $10,000. A total of $35,000 will be awarded to winning schools this year. Teachers from winning schools also receive a $100 or $500 prize.

The submission phase is now open and runs through Nov. 11.  Public and private elementary schools in BGE’s service area are urged to download the online entry kit and work with their students to complete their entries.  Captain Mercaptan’s name is derived from “mercaptan,” a safety additive that BGE and other utilities put in natural gas to give it a distinctive rotten egg odor that makes gas easier to detect.  The superhero and his safety sidekicks were designed by elementary school students through the BGE contest.

“At BGE, maintaining a reliable natural gas system for the customers we serve is a priority,” said Christopher Burton, vice president of Gas Distribution, BGE. “This contest utilizes the creativity of children to learn about a very important topic –  how to live and work safely around natural gas.”

Schools are also encouraged to use the entry kit at BGEGasHero.com  to review natural gas safety concepts and elements of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) with kindergarten through fifth grade students, and begin creating their contest entries.  Beginning Nov.19, entries will compete for votes during a two-week, online public voting period.  The winning schools will be announced in January 2019.  Last year’s winning entry was from Fountain Green Elementary in Bel Air. To date, BGE has awarded $175,000 to area schools during the first five contests.

Eligible schools will have an opportunity to win the following awards:

  • BGE Captain’s Choice Award – $5,000 overall top winner among the Hero Award winners, meaning this school receives a total of $10,000
  • BGE Hero Award – $5,000 for winners in kindergarten through fifth grade (one winner per grade)
  • Rock the Vote (for the drawing with the most online votes) – BGE backpacks full of school supplies and safety gear

Captain Mercaptan teaches children that they can be a hero too if they follow these simple safety tips:

  • Use your nose. Mercaptan is a safety scent that BGE puts in natural gas to give it a rotten egg smell.
  • Use your ears. Listen for the hissing sound of escaping gas.
  • Use your eyes. Look for dirt being blown into the air, dead plants or grass in otherwise green areas, fire coming from the ground or water bubbling and being blown into the air.
  • If you detect natural gas, leave immediately.
  • Don’t attempt to detect the source of the leak.
  • Don’t use matches or turn anything on (including a cell phone).
  • Find a safe place outside and call BGE or have an adult call 800.685.0123.

BGE traces its roots back to 1816 and the first gas utility in North America. Today the company provides safe, reliable natural gas service to more than 650,000 gas customers in central Maryland. Customers are reminded to immediately contact BGE at 1.800.685.0123 from a safe location if they have any questions or concerns about natural gas. For more information on the Captain Mercaptan contest, including future adventures, visit bgegashero.com. Gas safety tips are available atbge.com/CaptainMercaptan.

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