SoCalGas - Emergency Preparedness
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Emergency Preparedness

For any suspected gas emergency, or questions regarding a gas odor or carbon monoxide, please call us immediately at 1-800-427-2200.









Overview

Many natural disasters and other emergencies can strike without warning. In addition, after a major incident, there’s a good chance that public safety services will be busy handling emergencies. Your best defense is to be prepared at all times.

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.

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Developing an Emergency Plan

Most of us have at one time or another thought about what we would do in the event of an emergency. Unfortunately, too many of us never go beyond just thinking about it. Even worse, some people believe having stored food supplies and a few thoughts about what they would do in an emergency is being prepared. The truth is, without formalizing your thoughts on how you want to approach various emergencies, you are not prepared. In other words, being prepared means more than just having a store of supplies available; it also means having a written plan that includes training and practice. Developing a written plan not only organizes your thoughts, it also provides a systematic and repeatable approach to emergencies. It's also an excellent tool for training and practicing.

Your plan should be tailored to meet your specific situation and the particular actions required to meet specific types of emergencies. For example, what action should be taken in the event of a fire versus an earthquake or flood. Here are a few examples of emergencies for you to consider:

  • House or wild fire
  • Flooding
  • Earthquake
  • Intruder
  • School or work emergency
  • Large chemical spills near your neighborhood

Create an emergency plan for your family, identifying two places for the family to meet:

1) a place outside your home

2) a spot away from your neighborhood in case you can't return home

  • Practice the plan with your family, including your children
  • Make sure your children are aware of the routes away from home
  • Develop a plan for family pets and livestock. Evacuation shelters may not allow animals
  • Plan safe routes away from your home and business to high, safe ground
  • Designate a friend outside the area who family members can call if separated
  • Review the emergency plans at your workplace, your children's school or daycare center and other places where members of your family regularly spend time away from home
  • Review and update your plan, as needed -- at least annually
  • Keep current important documents in a safe-deposit box
  • Know if your home is in an area at risk of flooding or landslide
  • Clean debris from drains around your home or yard

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Emergency supplies checklist

Now is the time to stock up on at least 72 hours worth of emergency supplies that add to your safety and comfort during and after an earthquake or other emergency.

Below are some essential items to include in your emergency preparedness kit:

  • Bottled water -- three day supply of bottled water (one gallon per person, per day)
  • First-aid kit, handbook, and essential medications
  • Packaged, dried or canned food and any special diet items
  • Special provisions for babies, elderly, disabled family members, and pets
  • Non-electric can opener
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • A portable radio, flashlight, batteries and light sticks
  • Extra eyeglasses and sets of house and car keys
  • Fire extinguisher -- A-B-C type
  • Rubber boots, rain poncho
  • Plastic trash bags
  • Sturdy pair of shoes, warm clothing and personal hygiene items
  • Cash

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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.
  • Keep informed of the situation through local radio and television.
  • If evacuation is necessary, prepare an evacuation kit, including personal hygiene items, change of clothes, bedding and medication, if possible. Food, shelter and first aid are available at shelters.
  • If it is safe to do so, check on your neighbors, especially elderly and disabled persons.
  • Use the telephone only for family emergency needs or to report unsafe or dangerous conditions.
  • Do not use 911 unless you have a life-threatening emergency.
  • Avoid unnecessary trips. If you must travel during an emergency, dress in warm, loose layers of clothing and sturdy shoes. Advise others of your destination.
  • Use flashlights -- NOT lanterns, matches or candles -- to examine buildings, as flammable gases may be inside.
  • Follow instructions of local authorities regarding the safety of drinking water. If in doubt, boil or purify water before drinking or call public health officials.
  • Avoid "sightseeing" in disaster areas. You may hamper rescue efforts or place yourself in danger.

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Preparing for an Earthquake

Do a Home "Hazard Hunt"

Walk through your rooms and look for things that could fall when shaken. Identify good places to "duck, cover and hold". Even though you may not be able to secure every item you believe could fall, at least you will have identified the safe and unsafe areas of your home.

Practice your "Duck, Cover and Hold"

Duck or drop to the floor, take cover under a sturdy desk or table, and hold onto it. If you have children, teach them how to "duck, cover and hold", and be sure to practice it with them often.

During an Earthquake

Duck or drop to the floor, take cover under a sturdy desk or table, and hold onto it so that it doesn't move away from you. Wait there until the shaking stops.

Find out about:
Earthquake Shut-off Valves and Excess Flow Valves

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Report Any Pipe Damage

Evacuate the area and from a safe location, call SoCalGas at 1-800-427-2200 to report any pipeline damage. No damage is too small to report.