March 29, 2010 (San Diego) -- Following recent minor earthquakes in our region and the recent devastating quakes in Haiti and Chile, Southern California Gas Co. (The Gas Company) advises that advance preparation is critical in getting ready for the next major earthquake. The Gas Company offers these safety tips to help reduce the chance of injuries or property damage from the next quake:
Before an earthquake:
• Securely strap water heaters to prevent them from moving or toppling over. The water heater should be fastened securely to the wall studs in two places – the upper and lower one-third of the tank – with heavy bolts and metal straps.
• Replace semi-rigid (aluminum or copper) gas appliance connectors with approved connectors made of corrugated metal. These are less likely to crack during an earthquake. Connectors and water heater strapping kits are available at most hardware and home improvement stores, or may be purchased and installed by a licensed, qualified professional or The Gas Company.
• Know where the natural gas meter is located. Gas meters are commonly located above ground next to the home on the side, front or back, but may also be in a cabinet or underground.
• Have a 12-inch or larger adjustable wrench handy to manually turn off the gas meter should it be necessary if a gas leak is suspected after an emergency.
After an earthquake:
• Do not turn off the gas meter after an earthquake, unless there is a gas smell or the sound of gas escaping. Once the gas has been turned off, it may take The Gas Company several days to restore service, depending on the magnitude of the emergency.
• If an appliance appears to have a leak, turning off the valve between the appliance and gas line may stop the leak. If not, shut off the gas at the meter.
• If there is an apparent gas leak, remain calm. Do not light a match, candle or cigarette, and do not turn electrical devices – not even a light switch – on or off. From a safe location, call The Gas Company at (800) 427-2200 or (800) 342-4545 in Spanish, 24 hours a day, seven days a week; or call 911.
• If a gas leak is suspected and it is safe to do so, turn the gas off at the meter. Using an adjustable wrench, make a quarter-turn of the valve, moving it from a vertical position to a horizontal position. This will shut off the flow of gas. (A diagram and instructions for turning off the gas meter are printed in the “Survival Guide” section of most telephone directory white pages and is also available at www.socalgas.com.)
• If the gas is shut off at the meter, do not turn it back on without the help of The Gas Company. Gas service should not be restored until The Gas Company determines that the customer’s facilities, appliances or other gas equipment are safe.
For more natural gas safety information, visit The Gas Company’s Web site at www.socalgas.com/safety.