Living in California, you always have to be prepared for the next earthquake. Even though the majority of quakes are basically just tremors that do nothing more than rattle the windows a little bit, you never know when the Big One is going to hit. Yesterday, the Great Shakeout safety drill gave Californians a run-through of what to do should an earthquake strike, and to further help people prepare for such an eventuality, the Southern California Gas Company is offering a variety of safety tips.
People can begin safety preparations long before a quake even starts, and that includes securing a residence to ensure that you won’t be put in additional danger. Things like water heaters need to be strapped down so that they don’t topple and injure anyone nearby. Heavy bolts and metal straps should be used, and the entire thing should be attached to wall studs. A kit that offers all the necessary tools can likely be found at a hardware store near your home.
Residents should also take pains to note where their natural gas meter is. Although it’s typical for these items to be found just outside a house, it’s also possible that the meter is in some sort of cabinet or even underground in a storage area. Concerned persons should have a large adjustable wrench handy should it become imperative to turn the gas off if the earthquake causes a gas leak.
That leads directly into what should be done in the immediate aftermath of an earthquake. First, don’t just automatically assume that a gas leak has taken place. Instead, look out for the telltale signs. Those signs include a noise, an odor, or anything else that tips you off to the fact that a leak has occurred. Until such time that the meter has been turned off, don’t create any open flames (such as with a match) and don’t even turn on any appliances, as these can throw off a spark that would endanger the residence and those in it should it ignite the leaked gas. If you feel you’re in danger, get in touch with either the local authorities or SoCalGas.
SoCalGas is also the only authority that should turn your gas back on if you’re within their service area. You should not attempt to do so by yourself. Not only will the organization take care of turning it on, but they’ll also make sure that all other gas appliances are working properly. Plus, they will reignite any pilot lights that may have gone out during the event.