Turn Off Gas After an Earthquake

Once the shaking stops and the dust has settled, take a few moments to take stock of your situation. Do you smell natural gas? If you do there may be a leak, so its time to shut the gas main off. Bear in mind that only the utility can turn it back on, so you may have to wait a few days before you will have gas again.TOOLS: A gas shutoff wrench or an ordinary pipe or crescent wrench (that you hopefully keep next to your gas main). A nose. How can you tell when gas is leaking? If you smell a sulfur-like rotten egg smell.

Go to your gas meter and shutoff valve. We assume you have figured out where it is long before you have to turn off the gas, but if not try looking in the following places:  the side or in front of the building, in that utility box on the side of your building, or if you live in an apartment building, talk to your landlord and ask him/her to show you where it is. Use that wrench you have placed by your gas main for just this purpose.

If you smell rotten eggs, turn off the gas after an earthquake.
Turn the valve tang (the flat metal bit that fits in your wrench) 90 degrees so it is crosswise to the pipe.
Once you shut the gas off, you will have to wait for your utility professional to turn it back on. If an emergency reach out to them on an emergency handheld radio.

You should only turn off your natural gas if you suspect a gas leak. In the aftermath of an earthquake, it could be days or weeks until someone can show up to turn it back on.

You can also consider adding an automatic gas shutoff valve to your gas meter.  Check the Association of Bay Area Governments page on natural gas for information on the advantages and tradeoffs of automatic shutoffs.