Earthquakes, fires and other emergencies strike suddenly. Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) is reminding customers about the importance of being prepared for California’s next major emergency.
“Customer safety is a top priority for SoCalGas and we want to provide information to help our customers be ready for an emergency,” said Jimmie Cho, SoCalGas vice president of gas operations. “After a natural disaster or major incident such as the 1994 Northridge earthquake or the recent wildfires, public safety services will likely be busy handling emergencies. We encourage customers to be prepared at all times.”
SoCalGas offers these safety tips:
Before an emergency:
- Know where your gas meter is located and keep a 12” or larger adjustable wrench with your emergency supplies, near your building exit or next to your gas meter shut-off valve. Do not store the wrench on the gas meter or other gas piping. Even in the case of an earthquake or other emergency, turn off your gas meter if you smell gas, hear gas leaking or see other signs of a leak —and ONLY if it is safe to do so.
- To help prevent your water heater from moving or toppling in an earthquake, strap it firmly to the wall studs in two places —the upper and lower one-third of the tank— with heavy bolts and metal strapping. Be sure to place the lower strap at least four inches above the thermostat controls. Kits are often available at your local hardware store and we recommend having a licensed, qualified professional install it for you.
- Call SoCalGas or a licensed, qualified professional to replace any semi-rigid aluminum or copper gas tubing appliance connectors with an approved flexible connector.
- Check safety devices, such as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, to ensure that they are functioning properly.
- Call SoCalGas or a licensed, qualified professional to inspect your furnace and other gas appliances for safe operation and to make any needed repairs. Make sure flexible connectors are not subject to damage or passing through floors, walls or ceilings.
After an emergency:
- DO NOT turn off gas to the meter unless you smell gas, hear the sound of gas escaping or see other signs of a leak —and ONLY if it is safe to do so. If you turn off gas to the meter, leave it off. Do not turn it back on yourself. Interior gas piping and appliances must be inspected for possible damage before service can be safely restored. Call SoCalGas to turn the gas back on, to relight the pilots and service your appliances. Note that certain repairs may have to be performed by your plumber or heating contractor. However, only SoCalGas field employees are allowed to turn on the gas to the meter.
- For safety, a shut-off valve should be installed at every gas appliance, and may be required by state and/or local codes. If a leak occurs at a specific appliance, the valve will permit you to turn off the gas at the appliance rather than shutting off all gas service at the meter. Some valves require a wrench to turn them.
- Check your water heater and furnace vents. If the venting system becomes separated during an earthquake or other event, it could leak hazardous fumes into your home. Do not operate your appliance unless it is properly vented. Signs of an improperly vented appliance may include moisture on the inside of windows or an unusual odor when the appliance is in operation.
- DO NOT ignite a flame or use any electrical appliances, light switches or other devices that can cause a spark until you’re sure there are no gas leaks.
- Use flashlights —NOT lanterns, matches or candles— to examine buildings, as flammable gases may be inside.
- For more natural gas safety information, visit http://socalgas.com/safety/preparation.shtml.