Thursday, March 23, 2023

During severe weather, know these natural gas safety tips

For the next six months or so, area residents will be on the lookout for hurricanes. But the summer months may also bring tropical depressions, tropical storms and even tornadoes.

For those reasons, Virginia Natural Gas is advising its customers to be prepared and to be informed.

“Ensuring the safety of every family we serve is our highest priority,” said K.R. Campbell, vice president of operations at Virginia Natural Gas. “While our natural gas pipeline system is underground and usually protected during a storm, customers should ensure their meter is visible, and the area surrounding is free of trash and debris. Mechanical equipment used after the storm to clean up a location may damage the meter if it is hidden.”

Strong winds and saturated ground could cause trees to topple. Because downed trees may become tangled with the natural gas lines, customers should contact VA811 by calling 811 and have the location of underground utility lines marked before removing any downed trees.

If a natural gas meter is damaged or natural gas line is exposed, customers should immediately leave the area and from a safe location call the Virginia Natural Gas 24-hour emergency response line at 877-572-3342 or 911.

The company said it’s also important for customers to know how to recognize a gas leak, and offered the following tips:

  • If you smell the distinctive rotten-egg odor associated with natural gas, leave the area immediately and move a safe distance away from the potential leak, while avoiding any action that may cause sparks.
  • Never try to identify the source of a leak or stop the leak yourself.
  • Avoid using any sources of ignition, such as cellphones, cigarettes, matches, flashlights, electronic devices, motorized vehicles, light switches or landlines, as natural gas can ignite from a spark, possibly causing a fire or explosion.
  • Call the Virginia Natural Gas 24-hour emergency response line at 877-572-3342, or call 911 as soon as you are out of the area of the suspected leak and in a safe place. Stay away until Virginia Natural Gas or emergency personnel indicate it is safe to return.

As for appliances that use natural gas, they should have safety valves that will shut off the flow of gas automatically if the pilot light goes out.

“The safe and reliable delivery of natural gas service should operate uninterrupted in severe weather. In the case of severe lighting, customers might want to unplug natural gas appliances to avoid possible electrical damage,” Campbell said.

Virginia Natural Gas provides natural gas service to nearly 300,000 customers in southeast Virginia.

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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