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Earthquake preparedness: Gas line tips for your home

April 13, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
After a major earthquake it's important to know how to deal with your gas line when the ground stops shaking.

Just about every home in Southern California has a gas line connection. That's why the gas company is offering simple tips to protect residents and their homes.

It's been 17 years since the Northridge earthquake. And while it is hard to forget the shaking, we could all use a reminder if it ever happens again.

"We've had a few shake ups," said Eagle Rock resident Katherine Wright. "And there hasn't been any problem as yet. But you know if you look at Japan, you really need to be prepared."

The gas line to the house is one of the biggest worries. Do you turn it off, or do you leave it on?

"If you don't smell it and you don't hear it, we do not recommend that you shut it off," said Capt. Jaime Moore from Los Angeles City Fire. "There are problems that can occur if you do shut it off, and you do have to learn how to shut it off properly."

If the gas needs to be turned off, make sure to have the gas company turn it back on. That way they can check all of the appliances and make sure that everything is secure.

"What we do as a gas company, is we go back into your home, make sure every appliance is safe," said Raul Gordillo from Southern California Gas Company. "That there's no gas leak, make sure that every appliance is good to go. And then we go ahead and turn it back on for the customer."

The water heater is also a concern when the ground starts moving because it has a gas connection. The heater needs to be properly secured with metal straps, and needs the right connections.

The key for residents to remember in a quake is if you can't smell the gas or hear it hissing, don't touch it. If you do have to turn the valve off, it is only a quarter turn- vertical position is "on", and horizontal is "off." Overturning it can create more problems.