SDG&E offers tips on preventing, spotting and responding to natural gas leaks

Sep 10, 2010

Media Contact:
Allison Zaragoza

San Diego Gas & Electric

(877) 866-2066


        SAN DIEGO, Sept. 10, 2010 – In the wake of recent events, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is urging customers to beware of natural gas leaks.
        Though rare, leaks in natural gas pipelines can be caused by third-party contractors, hidden corrosion or natural disasters, and are highly flammable.

        SDG&E 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, which is why it’s important to know where they’re buried before digging for any reason. 
        • To ensure safety, call Underground Service Alert toll-free by dialing 8-1-1 at least two business days before digging to have utility lines marked at no cost.  As a free service, Underground Service Alert will contact SDG&E and other area utilities.  Each utility will then locate and mark the underground facilities they own.  This is a FREE service and 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 locations 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 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 SDG&E’s website at for more information.
        • Immediately report any pipe damage by calling SDG&E at (800) 611-7343.  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 SDG&E at (800) 611-7343 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or call 911.
Additional safety information is available on SDG&E’s website at
        SDG&E is a regulated public utility that provides safe and reliable energy service to 3.4 million consumers through 1.4 million electric meters and more than 840,000 natural gas meters in San Diego and southern Orange counties.  The utility’s area spans 4,100 square miles.  SDG&E is committed to creating ways to help our customers save energy and money every day.  SDG&E is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego.