Earthquakes fires and other emergencies strike suddenly so it's important to have a handle on your emergency preparedness skills and knowledge.
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.
-Check safety devices such as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure that they are functioning properly.
-Call 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.
-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.
Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2014. All rights reserved.