The Southern California Gas Company warned customers Tuesday about an earthquake valve scam following the recent SoCal earthquakes. Some Tustin residents reported being approached by a door-to-door salesperson offering to install an earthquake shutoff valve and promising that SoCalGas would provide a rebate.
In a company statement, SoCalGas confirmed it "does not currently offer a rebate for earthquake shutoff valves." The company encourages customers to verify the SoCalGas employee's identification number and uniform before letting anyone in the home or onto their property.
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The company advises customers to not shut off their own gas unless they smell, hear, or see signs of a natural gas leak, and only if conditions are safe to do so. The statement assures that SoCalGas’ natural gas system is reliable during earthquakes and that shaking doesn't typically result in a gas leak.
The earthquake natural gas shut-off valve automatically shuts off your natural gas service for earthquakes of large magnitude, according to the utility company.
However, in the case of a potential natural gas leak, customers must evacuate the area immediately if they smell, hear or see signs of a gas leak.
SoCalGas also shared several steps customers can take to prepare for earthquakes or other emergencies:
- Keep an adjustable wrench: It's important to know where your natural gas meter is located and keep a 12-inch+ adjustable wrench near your building exit or next to your natural gas meter shut-off valve. Steps to safely turn off your natural gas meter can be found here.
- Secure water heater: To keep your water heater from moving or toppling in an earthquake, customers should strap it firmly to the wall studs in two places - the upper and lower one-third of the tank - using heavy bolts and metal strapping. Be sure to place the lower strap at least four inches above the thermostat controls.
- Check safety devices regularly: Check your safety devices, like smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, regularly to make sure they're working properly. Call SoCalGas or a qualified professional to inspect your furnace and other natural gas appliances for safe operation.
- Make an emergency preparedness plan: Being prepared for an emergency means more than just having supplies available; it means having a written plan and practicing that plan with your family. Consider having a unique plan for each type of emergency, e.g. an earthquake; flood; house or wild fire; intruder; school or work emergency; and large chemical spills near your neighborhood.