Safety · First Responders

Emergency officials play an important role in natural gas safety. In the rare event of a pipeline leak, you are usually the first to arrive at the scene. Natural gas companies count on you to take charge and establish a safety zone until company representatives have arrived.

Prevention: the best defense against leaks
The best defense against natural gas leaks is prevention and awareness. Most incidents occur due to lack of knowledge. Natural gas companies work hard to keep our pipeline system safe for everyone. As an emergency official, you can do your part by keeping the following safety tips in mind:

  • Know where the pipelines are in your jurisdiction. If you notice any missing, damaged or obscured pipeline markers, contact the natural gas company listed on the nearest marker so they can be replaced.
  • Be on the lookout for any suspicious activity or unauthorized digging. By law, individuals must contact the Ohio811, 1-800-362-2764, at least two working days BEFORE they start to dig for any landscape or construction project.
  • Trust your senses. Here are the three main ways to detect a natural gas leak:

Use your senses of sight, hearing and smell, along with any of the following signs, to alert yourself to the presence of a gas leak:


  • The distinctive odor of natural gas


  • A damaged connection to a gas appliance
  • Dirt or water being blown into the air
  • Dead or dying vegetation (in an otherwise moist area) over or near pipeline areas
  • A fire or explosion near a pipeline
  • Exposed pipeline after an earthquake, fire, flood or other disaster


  • An unusual sound, such as a hissing, whistling, or roaring sound near a gas line or appliance

It makes sense to trust your senses.

Help keep residents safe during a natural gas emergency
Here are some simple DOs and DON’Ts for emergency officials to remember if dispatched to a pipeline incident (the following tips are general guidelines; they are not meant to replace an existing emergency response plan):


  • Call the natural gas company listed on the nearest pipeline marker with the location and type of emergency from a safe distance. If no company is listed, call 9-1-1.
  • Protect the public by evacuating and securing the area and providing traffic control and emergency services if necessary.
  • Let escaping gas burn if on fire.
  • Allow natural gas company representatives to operate valves.
  • Use only intrinsically safe equipment.


  • Attempt to operate any pipeline system equipment.
  • Turn vehicles or equipment on or off or use a device that might create a spark, like a cell phone, without leaving the area first.

How natural gas companies respond
Once the appropriate natural gas company is notified, personnel are immediately dispatched to help handle the emergency, keep emergency officials informed and take necessary steps (e.g. starting and stopping equipment, closing and opening valves) to correct the problem.

To learn more…
For more information about natural gas emergency response and training, or about how we plan for emergencies contact your local natural gas company. More valuable online resources include: