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Do you know where utility lines are buried on your property?
Although accidents are relatively rare, damage from digging is the most common cause of underground natural gas leaks.
Three steps you must follow before you dig:
- Call 811 before you dig. 811 is the national phone number that initiates the process of locating and marking the underground utility lines in your yard or at your job. Dial 811 at least three business days before your dig.
- Wait for the utility lines to be marked. 811 center personnel notify area utilities such as Alliant Energy to mark the approximate locations of buried gas or electric lines with high-visibility safety paint and/or flags. There is no charge for this service.
Locators will not mark privately owned fuel lines, like those running to a garage, pool or fireplace.
- Respect the marks or flags; then dig with care. When you start digging, stay at least 18 inches away from the marked lines. Hand digging with extreme caution is required when digging within the 18-inch tolerance zone.
How we’re working to keep natural gas safe
We provide training and education on natural gas to keep our employees, customers and communities safe. We continually seek out new technologies in pipeline design, construction, inspections and operations to make delivery of natural gas safe, cost-effective and secure.
If you suspect a gas leak, follow these do’s and don’ts:
What to do:
- Make sure gas appliances are turned all the way off.
- Contractors: Turn off and abandon equipment.
- IMMEDIATELY evacuate everyone from the building or area.
- Leave the door open as you exit.
- Leave the area, and warn others to stay away.
- Call 1-800-ALLIANT from a remote location. Do not return until we confirm it is safe.
- If you hear gas hissing or blowing, which is a more serious issue, evacuate to a remote location and call 911.
What not to do:
- Do not try to find or repair the leak or extinguish a burning gas leak.
- Do not move appliances or machinery.
- Do not start an engine of any kind.
- Do not strike matches or create a flame of any kind.
- Do not use a telephone or cellphone (these can ignite gases or vapors).
- Do not turn on or off any light or electrical switches or garage door openers (these also can ignite airborne gases).
Avoid disaster! Call 811 and know what’s below.
How natural gas reaches your home
Natural gas is extracted from the earth. It travels to your community through underground transmission pipelines. The National Transportation Safety Board says pipelines are the safest way to transport gas.
When the natural gas reaches your community, a local distribution company such as Alliant Energy reduces the gas pressure and adds an odorant. Odorant gives natural gas the rotten egg smell that helps you detect a gas leak.
Inside your community, the natural gas travels through pipelines called “mains.” Mains are often buried underneath or along streets. From there, a smaller service line, approximately ½ inch to 1 inch in diameter, brings the natural gas to your meter. Service lines are buried in yards.
After the gas passes through a meter, it belongs to you, the customer. Customers are responsible for installing and maintaining the piping that natural gas flows through to reach the appliance and equipment.
- A qualified professional should check your gas appliances annually. Inspections keep gas appliances safe and efficient, and they reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Snow and ice can damage gas meters and pipes. Use a broom to keep gas service equipment clear during the winter.
- Vents for gas appliances must be cleared following a major snow or ice storm to enable proper venting and prevent carbon monoxide accumulation.
- Never place a fire pit above a buried line! If the fire gets too hot, it could cause the gas pipeline below it to leak or melt. Call 811 to have the underground lines located on your property.
- Every home should have natural gas detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.