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Virginia Natural Gas Offers Tips to Keep You Safe Before, During and After Severe Weather

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – May 31, 2019 – The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season will be remembered as one of the most destructive seasons on record, producing 15 named storms, including eight hurricanes, most notably hurricanes Florence and Michael, which alone caused more than $42 billion in property damages and was responsible for 109 fatalities. 

Even though the 2019 season is predicted to be slightly below average, the forecasters at Colorado State University are predicting 13 named storms and five hurricanes, two of which could be major storms at Category 3 or above. Therefore, Virginia Natural Gas customers should prepare now to keep themselves and their families safe before any naturally occurring weather event.

Hurricane season, a six-month period that begins June 1 and lasts through November, is typically the time of year when the potential for tropical depressions, tropical storms or hurricanes peaks. This period also can lead to tornados and other related weather emergencies, such as flooding.  

Virginia Natural Gas is providing the following recommended guidelines associated with natural gas safety during a weather emergency:

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.
  • They should never try to identify the source of a leak or stop the leak themselves.
  • They should 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.
  • They should call the Virginia Natural Gas 24-hour emergency response line at 1-877-572-3342 or 911 once they are out of the area of the suspected leak and in a safe place. They should also stay away until Virginia Natural Gas or emergency personnel indicates it is safe to return.

Damage Prevention 

  • Strong winds and saturated grounds could cause trees to become uprooted. Before removing downed trees, customers should contact VA811 by calling 811 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 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. 

Meter Safety 

  • Customers are encouraged to know where to locate their natural gas meter.
  • Following a weather emergency, they 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 number at 1-877-572-3342 or 911 from a safe location.

Appliance Safety

  • Customers are advised to leave their natural gas service on during a hurricane or severe storm. Most natural 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 purchase and installation to determine whether their service line and meter meets load requirements for the generator’s safe and efficient operation.

Personal Safety

  • 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 7-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. 
  • If you must travel after a storm, stay away from where crews are working. Make sure to follow road signs, drive cautiously and follow directions in the areas of a work crew. 
  • Know your flood zone and potential risk hazards in your area. Visit the FEMA flood map service and simply enter your address. 
  • For more information on personal hurricane preparedness, visit the Red Cross. 

How to connect with us

  • During a storm, customers can get the latest updates by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and the #757alert hashtag. 

For more information about natural gas safety, visit virginianaturalgas.com/safety. 

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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 natural gas service to nearly 300,000 customers in southeast Virginia. Virginia Natural Gas has been recognized as one of the safest, most reliable and customer-focused natural gas service providers and is consistently ranked in the top quartile for customer satisfaction by J.D. Power and Associates. In 2018, Virginia Natural Gas was named Local Distribution Company of the Year by the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy and the Virginia Oil and Gas Association for the third consecutive year. For more information, visit virginianaturalgas.com and connect with the company on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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 4.6 million natural gas utility customers through its regulated distribution companies in seven states and more than 1 million retail customers through its companies that market natural gas and related home services. Other nonutility businesses include investments in interstate pipelines, asset management for natural gas wholesale customers and ownership and operation of natural gas storage facilities. For more information, visit www.southerncompanygas.com.

Media Contact:
Rick DelaHaya
o: 757.616.7510 | c: 757.323.7366 | rdelahay@southernco.com