Virginia Natural Gas crews prepare for Hurricane Matthew

WAVY/Catherine Rogers
WAVY/Catherine Rogers

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) – Virginia Natural Gas is closely watching the unpredictable path of Hurricane Matthew. Crews are preparing for the storm, emphasizing the importance of having a plan and making the necessary preparations for severe weather.

With the safety of the public, its employees and pipelines at the forefront, Virginia Natural Gas is recommends following these guidelines associated with natural gas safety during weather emergencies:

Detecting Gas Leaks

  • If customers smell the rotten egg odor that is often associated with natural gas, they should immediately leave the affected area; call 9-1-1 then the 24-hour emergency response line at 1-877-572-3342 from a safe location.
  • Residents should never try to identify the source of a leak themselves.
  • If the odor of gas is present, do not use a telephone or cellular phone, turn light switches on or off, operate any appliance or do anything that might cause a spark, such as lighting a match.

Damage Prevention

  • Strong winds and saturated grounds could cause trees to become uprooted. Before removing downed trees, customers should dial the Virginia Utility Protection Service by calling 8-1-1 or 1-800-552-7001 to have the location of underground utility lines marked, because downed trees could become tangled with the natural gas lines.
  • If a natural gas meter is damaged or gas line is exposed, immediately leave the area; call 9-1-1 then the 24-hour emergency response line at 1-877-572-3342 from a safe location.

Meter Safety

  • Customers are encouraged to know how to locate their natural gas meter.
  • Following a weather emergency, ensure the 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 gas line is exposed, immediately leave the area; call 9-1-1 then the Virginia Natural Gas 24-hour emergency response number at 1-877-572-3342.

Appliance Safety

  • Customers are advised to leave their natural gas service on during a hurricane or severe storm. Most gas appliances have safety valves that shut off the flow of gas automatically if the pilot light goes out.
  • If flooding occurs at a residence or business and the gas appliances are under water, customers are advised not to operate their appliances until a safety inspection is conducted.

Natural Gas Generators

  • 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 prior to installation to determine whether their service line and meter meets load requirements for the generator’s safe and efficient operation.