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Oct. 17, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- As thousands of Californians prepare for the annual Great Shakeout drill on
Thursday, Oct. 18 at
Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) is reminding customers that advance preparation is critical in getting ready for the next major earthquake.
SoCalGas 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. Be sure to place the lower strap at least four inches above the thermostat controls.
Replace semi-rigid (aluminum or copper) gas appliance connectors with approved flexible 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.
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 an underground vault.
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 you smell gas, hear the sound of gas escaping or see other signs of a gas leak and only if it is safe to do so. Once the gas has been turned off, it may take SoCalGas several days to restore service, depending on the magnitude of the emergency. Do not attempt to turn the gas back on yourself.
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, or use any other device or equipment that may cause a spark. Note that gas leaking from a plastic pipe can cause static electricity which can ignite the gas. From a safe location, call SoCalGas at 1-800-427-2200 or 1-800-342-4545 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 a 12-inch or larger 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 socalgas.com).
If the gas is shut off at the meter, do not turn it back on yourself. Call SoCalGas to have the gas turned back on, have the pilots relit and service all gas appliances for safe operation.