Virginia Natural Gas offers tips to keep your family safe during hurricane season
2022 Hurricane Season is here!
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., June 7, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Only a week into the 2022 Hurricane Season and Tropical Storm Alex became the first named storm of the six-month season, flooding parts of southern Florida. Now that hurricane season is officially upon us, now is the time to make sure your family is prepared in the event of any severe weather conditions.
Officially beginning June 1 and running through November 30, forecasters at the Climate Prediction Center are calling for an above-average Atlantic hurricane season, predicting at least 14-21 named storms and six to 10 hurricanes – four of which could be Category 3 or higher.
But while forecasting is not an exact science, it is important to keep in mind that just one storm could have a significant impact on homes, property and lives.
That's why Virginia Natural Gas is providing customers with the following recommended natural gas safety guidelines for use before, during and after a weather emergency:
- DO NOT turn off your gas supply at the main meter. Only Virginia Natural Gas or emergency personnel should turn the valve on or off.
- Leaving natural gas meters on helps to maintain proper pressure in the gas piping within homes or businesses and can prevent water from entering the fuel lines should flooding occur.
- Customers are encouraged to know the location of their natural gas meter.
- Following a weather emergency, customers should ensure the natural gas meter is visible, and the area surrounding the meter 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.
- If a natural gas meter is damaged or an underground gas line is exposed, customers should immediately leave the area, and call the Virginia Natural Gas 24-hour emergency response line at 1.877.572.3342 or 911 from a safe location.
Appliance Safety Before and After the Storm
- Customers are advised to leave their natural gas service operational during a hurricane or severe storm. Most modern gas appliances have safety valves that shut off the flow of natural gas automatically with a loss of gas pressure or flooding of the appliances.
- Electronic ignition appliances will not come on when the power source has been impacted.
- If you are uncomfortable leaving your appliances operational, contact a trained professional (certified plumber or HVAC contractor) to shut off your appliances at the cutoff valves. When it is safe to do so, have them return to turn the valves back on, leak test the line and turn on to test the appliance for safe operation. Find a qualified natural gas contractor.
- If flooding occurs at a residence or business and the gas appliances are underwater, customers are advised not to operate their appliances until a safety inspection is conducted by a certified plumber or HVAC contractor.
- Strong winds and saturated ground could cause trees to become uprooted. Before removing downed trees, customers should contact VA811 to have the location of underground utility lines marked since downed trees could become tangled with natural gas lines.
- If a natural gas meter is damaged or a natural gas line is exposed, customers should immediately leave the area and call the Virginia Natural Gas 24-hour emergency response line at 1.877.572.3342 or 911 from a safe location.
Detecting Gas Leaks
- If customers smell the distinctive "rotten-egg" odor associated with natural gas, they should leave the area immediately and move a safe distance away from the potential leak, while avoiding any action that may cause sparks.
- Look for blowing dirt, discolored vegetation or continued bubbling in standing water.
- Customers should never try to identify the source of a leak or stop the leak themselves.
- Avoid using any sources of ignition, such as cell phones, 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.
- Customers should call the Virginia Natural Gas 24-hour emergency response line at 1.877.572.342 or 911 once they are in a safe place out of the area of the suspected leak. They should also stay away until Virginia Natural Gas or emergency personnel indicates it is safe to return.
- Generators can be useful after a storm but dangerous if not properly used. The primary hazards to avoid when using a generator are carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from the toxic engine exhaust, electric shock or electrocution and fire.
- NEVER use a generator in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces.
- NEVER try to power the house wiring by plugging the generator into a wall outlet, a practice known as "backfeeding."
- Plug appliances directly into the generator. Or use a heavy duty, outdoor-rated extension cord that is rated (in watts or amps) at least equal to the sum of the connected appliance loads.
- During a power outage, natural gas generators provide continuous fuel supply from an existing natural gas line. While these units are available in a range of sizes to meet various energy needs, customers are encouraged to contact Virginia Natural Gas before purchase and installation to determine whether their service line and meter meet load requirements for the generator's safe and efficient operation.
- Your personal safety is the most important thing before, during and after a storm. The Red Cross urges everyone to be prepared before the storm hits. This means having an emergency preparedness kit that includes among other things, a seven-day supply of medications, copies of important documents such as insurance policies, non-perishable food items and water for two weeks, extra cash, batteries for flashlights and radios, and personal hygiene products. Visit the Ready.gov national preparedness website for more tips.
- Flooding and storm surge are historically the leading cause of hurricane-related deaths in the United States. Know your flood zone and potential risk hazards in your area. Visit the Virginia Department of Emergency Management website and simply enter your address to "Know Your Zone."
How to connect with us
During a storm, Virginia Natural Gas communicates information to customers through the news media and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Nextdoor.
For more information about natural gas safety, visit virginianaturalgas.com/safety.
About Virginia Natural Gas
Virginia Natural Gas is one of four natural gas distribution companies of Southern Company Gas, a wholly owned subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO). Virginia Natural Gas provides clean, safe, reliable and affordable natural gas service to more than 300,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in southeast Virginia. Consistently ranked in the top quartile for customer satisfaction by J.D. Power and Associates, the company also has been recognized by the Virginia Department Energy (Virginia Energy) and the Virginia Oil and Gas Association for its safety, innovation, environmental stewardship, community outreach and educational programs, and has been named Local Distribution Company of the Year five times since 2015. The company has been ranked by its business customers as one of the most Trusted Business Partners in the utility industry according to Cogent Reports, and a Top Workplaces in Hampton Roads by Inside Business. For more information, visit virginianaturalgas.com and connect with the company on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Nextdoor.
About Southern Company Gas
Southern Company Gas is a wholly owned subsidiary of Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE:SO), America's premier energy company. Southern Company Gas serves approximately 4.3 million natural gas utility customers through its regulated distribution companies in four states with approximately 600,000 retail customers through its companies that market natural gas. Other nonutility businesses include investments in interstate pipelines and ownership and operation of natural gas storage facilities. For more information, visit southerncompanygas.com.
SOURCE Virginia Natural Gas
For further information: Rick DelaHaya, o: 757.616.7510 | c: 757.323.7366, firstname.lastname@example.org | www.virginianaturalgas/pressroom