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SDG&E offers tips on spotting, responding to natural gas leak


With the onset of winter and increased use of home furnaces comes the need for increased awareness of natural gas safety in the home and the community. Southern California Gas Co. (The Gas Company) offers tips to help residents recognize a leak and what to do in the event of a leak.

Gas Company officials say natural gas safety is a top priority and the company works to meet or exceed federal and state requirements for safe pipeline operations and maintenance. Though rare, leaks in natural gas pipelines can occur due to natural disasters, damage by third-party contractors, or hidden corrosion. Gas leaks can be detected by smell, sound and sight. The Gas Company offers these warning signs and safety tips:

* Most natural gas pipelines are buried underground. Major pipeline routes are marked above ground using high-visibility markers. These markers purposely indicate only the general, not exact, location of major pipelines. Markers are mostly found where a pipeline intersects a street, highway or rail line. However, most lower-pressure lines used to serve residential neighborhoods and businesses are not marked. That is why it is important to know where they are buried before digging for any reason.
* To ensure safety and to comply with California state law, call Underground Service Alert toll-free at 8-1-1 at least two workdays before digging to have utility lines marked at no cost. To find out if there are pipelines located in a specific area, visit the National Pipeline Mapping System website at
* If there is a leak, one most likely will smell the distinctive odor that is added to natural gas so that leaks can be easily detected.
* There may also be a hissing, whistling or roaring sound near a pipeline.
* And, there may be dead or dying vegetation over or near a pipeline, or there could be fire.

If a leak is suspected:

∑ Stay calm.

∑ Donít light a match, candle or cigarette, and donít turn electrical devices -- not even a

light switch -- on or off.

∑ Move away from the area where the leak is suspected and call The Gas Company

immediately at (800) 427-2200 or the local fire department.

∑ Additional safety information can be found at The Gas Companyís Web site at

Southern California Gas Co. has been delivering clean, safe and reliable natural gas to its customers for more than 140 years. It is the nationís largest natural gas distribution utility, providing safe and reliable energy to 20.1 million consumers through 5.6 million meters in more than 500 communities. The companyís service territory encompasses approximately 20,000 square miles in diverse terrain throughout central and Southern California, from Visalia to the Mexican border. The Gas Company is a regulated subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE). Sempra Energy, based in San Diego, is a Fortune 500 energy services holding company.


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