SOURCE: Southern California Gas Company

Southern California Gas Company

September 08, 2010 14:19 ET

The Gas Company Offers Tips on Preventing, Spotting and Responding to Natural Gas Leaks

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - September 8, 2010) -  With the fall season approaching, natural gas usage for heating will increase throughout the region. Southern California Gas Co. (The Gas Company) urges customers to be aware of potential natural gas leaks.

Though rare, leaks in natural gas pipelines can be caused by third-party contractors, hidden corrosion or natural disasters, and can be highly flammable.

The Gas Company offers these safety tips:

  • If natural gas appliances are used in the home or business, it is an indication that natural gas pipelines exist in the neighborhood.
  • Most natural gas pipelines are buried underground, but only major pipeline routes are marked above ground with high visibility markers. These markers purposely indicate only the general -- not exact -- location of major pipelines usually found where a pipeline would intersect a street, highway or rail line. However, most lower-pressure lines used to serve residential neighborhoods and businesses are not marked, and could be just inches below ground, which is why it is important to know where they are buried before digging for any reason.
  • To ensure safety, call Underground Service Alert (USA) at 8-1-1 at least two business days before digging to have utility-owned lines marked. USA will coordinate with The Gas Company and other utilities in the area to mark the locations of buried utility-owned lines. This is a FREE service and it can help prevent injury, costly property damage and loss of utility service. Once lines are marked, use only hand tools within 24 inches of each marked utility line to determine the exact location of all lines before using any power excavation equipment in the area.
  • Be aware of all the possible signs of a gas leak, including a distinct unpleasant smell -- the odor additive in natural gas to help identify leaks -- a hissing, whistling or roaring sound, a ground fire, as well as dead or dying vegetation in an otherwise moist area over or near a pipeline.
  • Even though a distinctive odor is added to natural gas to assist in the detection of leaks, do not rely on sense of smell alone to alert you to a gas leak since there may be occasions when you might not be able to smell the odor additive. Visit The Gas Company's website at www.socalgas.com/safety for more information.
  • Immediately report any pipe damage by calling The Gas Company at (800) 427-2200. No damage is too small to report.

If a leak is suspected:

  • Stay calm.
  • Don't light a match, candle or cigarette, and don't turn any electrical devices on or off, including light switches, or use any equipment that could cause a spark.
  • Immediately leave the area where the leak is suspected and from a safe location call The Gas Company at (800) 427-2200 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or call 911.

For more safety information, visit The Gas Company's website at www.socalgas.com/safety.

Southern California Gas Co. is the nation's largest natural gas distribution utility, providing safe and reliable energy to 20.5 million consumers through 5.7 million meters in more than 500 communities. The company's service territory encompasses approximately 20,000 square miles in diverse terrain throughout Central and Southern California, from Visalia to the Mexican border. Southern California Gas Co. is a regulated subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE). Sempra Energy, based in San Diego, is a Fortune 500 energy services holding company. To learn more, go to www.socalgas.com.

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