If an earthquake occurs, you could be without natural gas or electricity for days. Here are some ways you can stay safe around energy, before, during and after an earthquake.
Preparing before an earthquake
- Securely strap your hot water tank. This will keep the water and natural gas lines from breaking, and ensure a source of water. The BC Building and Plumbing Codes now require it, and contractors who install and service water heaters can do it for you. Find a licensed contractor near you.
- Anchor other natural gas appliances wherever possible. Use flexible metal connectors to connect appliances to rigid natural gas piping. Securing all your natural gas appliances properly reduces the need for a seismic shut-off valve.
- Keep the area around appliances clear of combustible materials including paper, paints/solvents, laundry, propane cylinders, barbecues and gasoline-powered items.
- Keep a clear path to your meter, water shut-off valves and breaker panels at all times so crews can reach them in an emergency.
- Know where the shut-off valve for each appliance is and how to use it – but do not shut off your natural gas if you’re evacuating. If fire or emergency officials request FortisBC to do so, we will turn off natural gas service as a precautionary measure, or if there is an immediate threat to FortisBC infrastructure.
When the shaking is over
When it’s safe, check your appliances and utilities for damage. Check the vents, chimney and connections at each natural gas appliance to be sure they have not been dislodged or blocked. If your natural gas appliances or pipes are damaged, do not use them until a licensed gas contractor has inspected them. You can find a licensed contractor using our online directory.
If you have concerns with your natural gas system, or if you smell rotten eggs or hear the sound of escaping gas, go outside and call the FortisBC 24-Hour Emergency Line at 1-800-663-9911 or dial 9-1-1.
Watch out for downed power lines
If you’re outside or in your car after an earthquake, be alert for downed power lines. Even wires that are quiet and without sparks could still be live. If you see one, stay at least 10 metres away (33 feet, about the length of a school bus).
Natural gas service outages
Do not shut off your natural gas if you’re evacuating. If fire or emergency officials request FortisBC to do so, we will turn off natural gas service as a precautionary measure, or if there is an immediate threat to FortisBC infrastructure. Once fire or emergency officials confirm the situation is safe, FortisBC takes a number of steps to safely restore natural gas service:
- We will assess the natural gas system in the affected area, repair any damage and reactivate the affected system.
- FortisBC crews will visit each home to relight all affected appliances and restore natural gas service at the meter, if required.
If you are not home, a FortisBC technician will leave a tag on your door that provides contact information. Call 1-877-711-8877 for have a technician restore your natural gas service.