Earthquake preparedness month: SDG&E offers natural gas and electric safety tips

Apr 4, 2006

Media Contact:
Denise King

San Diego Gas & Electric

(877) 866-2066


        SAN DIEGO, April 4, 2006 – Hurricane Katrina and its devastating impact on life and property along the Gulf Coast last August serves as a reminder that it’s never too soon to prepare for natural disasters, including earthquakes.

        As the Southland kicks off Earthquake Safety Month, San Diego Gas & Electric  (SDG&E) offers these safety tips to help reduce the possibility of injuries and damage to property that may occur during the next temblor:

        Before an earthquake:

           • Follow the rules contained in current plumbing codes, requiring that water heaters be secured to the wall studs 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.  A quake may cause an unsecured water heater to move, possibly breaking the gas connectors, which may result in a fire.  The loss of a water heater also would deprive a home of a valuable water source that may be needed for cooking and drinking.

           • Replace semi-rigid (aluminum or copper) gas appliance connectors with approved 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.

           • Have a 12-inch adjustable wrench handy to manually turn off the gas meter should it be necessary. 

           • Know where all the electrical panels are located in and around the home and how to turn the electricity off in case of emergency.

        After an earthquake:

           • Do not turn off the gas meter after an earthquake unless there is the smell or sound of gas escaping.

           • If an appliance appears to have a leak, turning off the valve between the appliance and gas line may stop the leak.  If this does not stop the leak, the gas should be shut off at the meter.

           • If there is the smell or sound of gas escaping, the gas should be manually turned off at the meter.  Using an 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

           • If the gas is shut off at the meter, do not attempt to turn it back on without the help of SDG&E or a licensed plumbing contractor.  Interior gas piping and appliances must be inspected for possible damage before service can be safely restored.

           • Should there be a downed electrical line, do not touch the equipment.  The line may still be energized and dangerous.  Call 911 and ask for the police department, fire department rescue service or SDG&E.

           • If running an emergency electric generator during an outage, do not connect it to the home’s electrical system.  Doing so could result in death or serious injury and also threaten any SDG&E employees on nearby power lines.  Plugging the generator back into the electric system also can damage appliances.

        San Diego Gas & Electric is a regulated public utility that provides safe and reliable energy service to 3.4 million consumers through 1.3 million electric meters and more than 825,000 natural gas meters.  The utility’s service area spans 4,100 square miles and serves customers in more than 125 communities from Southern Orange County to the Mexican border.  Exceptional customer service is a priority of SDG&E as it seeks to enhance the region’s quality of life.  SDG&E 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