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Severe Weather Safety

Before the Storm

Losing natural gas service during severe weather and power outages is rare because pipe infrastructure is below ground. However, there are several safety precautions customers should take to keep you and your community safe.

Nicor Gas advises customers to leave their gas meter on to maintain proper pressure in the gas piping within their homes or businesses and to prevent water from entering the lines should flooding occur. Most gas appliances have safety valves that shut off the flow of gas automatically if the pilot light goes out. Your natural gas service should operate uninterrupted throughout the storm. Only Nicor Gas or emergency personnel should turn the valve off. In cases of severe lightning, customers might want to unplug natural gas appliances to avoid possible electrical damage.

Report a natural gas emergency to the Nicor Gas 24-hour emergency response line at 888.Nicor4U (642.6748). The damage assessment and restoration process begins once the storm has passed, and it’s safe for our crews to proceed with gathering information and determining the extent of the service needs in the affected area

property damage

During/Immediately After the Storm

  • Natural gas is injected with a chemical odorant called mercaptan, which many people equate to that of a distinctive “rotten egg” type scent. If the odor of gas is present when you return to your home, immediately leave the affected area and call our 24-hour emergency response line, at 888.Nicor4U (642.6748) from a safe location. Residents should never try to identify the source of a leak themselves.
  • If you smell gas, avoid using any sources of ignition, such as cell phones, cigarettes, matches, flashlights, electronic devices, motorized vehicles, light switches or landline as natural gas can ignite from a spark, possibly causing a fire or explosion.
  • If flooding occurs at a residence or business and the gas appliances are or have been submerged under water, do not try to operate the appliances.
  • During clean up and repair after a storm avoid causing damage to the gas lines by calling 811 before digging. This also pertains to removing downed trees as they can become entangled with natural gas lines.
  • Following a weather emergency, ensure the gas meter is visible, and the area surrounding the meter is free of trash and debris. Mechanical equipment used after the storm to clean up a location may damage an unseen meter. If a natural gas meter is damaged or gas line is exposed, immediately leave the area and call our 24-hour emergency response number at 888.Nicor4U (642.6748).

If your gas service was interrupted as a result of a severe storm, restoration time depends on when water recedes in flooded areas and customers’ homes and businesses are free of standing water, and when Nicor Gas personnel can safely enter homes and businesses, and appliances are easily accessible by technicians.

Summer Safety Tips

The safety of our customers and communities is our highest priority. That’s why at all times, including when severe weather events occur, we strongly advise customers to adhere to the following guidelines associated with natural gas meters and appliances.

Appliance Safety

July is the peak month for grilling fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. A stationery natural gas grill can help avoid the safety worries associated with portable grills. When grilling this summer, take the following safety precautions.

  • Use a certified natural gas contractor to ensure your natural gas line and grill connection are installed properly and according to building codes. To locate a certified contractor, use our Find A Contractor tool.

  • All grills need proper venting and distancing from flammable objects. Position your grill at least 10 feet from flammable objects such as siding, eaves, ceilings, porch rails, overhanging branches or decorative objects. 

  • When purchasing a grill, be sure to shop for the right type, since stationary natural gas and portable propane grills have different connection equipment. 

  • Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill area.

  • Keep your grill clean, removing grease buildup from the grills and the trays below.

  • Make sure your grill lid is open before lighting it. 

  • Never leave a hot grill unattended, especially after you’ve finished cooking and you’ve turned up the grill to burn off any remnants.

  • When a grill is not being used, turn off all the burner control knobs including the side burner, then if using a natural gas grill, turn off the shut-off valve on your natural gas supply line. 

Generators

Hurricane season runs from June to November, increasing the likelihood of power outages, especially in southern and eastern coastal states, while tornadoes or other summer severe weather can strike anywhere in the U.S. The safest way to supply backup power to your property during an electrical outage is with a natural gas standby generator. Different from portable generators that run on gasoline, natural gas standby or stationary generators operate automatically and can run indefinitely. 

  • Have your standby generator installed by a qualified contractor to ensure all building codes are followed. To locate a contractor, use our Find A Contractor tool. 

  • Work with your contractor or dealer to size the standby generator correctly to avoid overloads or inadequate power supply. Most dealers have online calculators on their websites. 

  • Read through the owner’s manual to be familiar with your product’s warnings and directions.

  • Stationary standby generators have weatherproof housing to operate safely outdoors, while portable generators can pose risks of electric shock or fire, especially when operated in wet conditions. 

  • Make sure your hands are dry before touching a generator. Keep children and pets away from generators. NEVER try to power the house wiring by plugging a portable generator into a wall outlet, a practice known as “backfeeding.”

  • Generators should run only outdoors in an area with plenty of ventilation, away from windows, doors and vents, never inside a home or garage.  

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

  • Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms should be replaced every 10 years. 

  • Keep your home safe by installing a CO detector on each level of your home, near bedrooms. 

  • If you smell natural gas or suspect carbon monoxide is present in your home or business, immediately leave the area and call 911 or Nicor Gas' emergency number, 888.Nicor4U (888.642.6748), from a safe location.

  • Seek medical attention immediately if anyone in your home or business experiences possible symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, which include headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea and vomiting.

Meter Safety

  • Know where your natural gas meter is located.
  • Following a weather emergency, ensure the gas meter is visible and the area surrounding the meter is free of trash and debris.
  • Mechanical equipment used after the storm to clean up a location may damage the meter if it is hidden.
  • Exercise caution removing snow or ice from your natural gas meter assembly. Use your hands or a broom, not a shovel, to brush away snow or ice from your meter and regulator. Never kick or hit your gas meter or its piping with a hammer or any hard object to break away built-up snow or ice.
  • If a natural gas meter is damaged or underground gas line is exposed, immediately leave the area and call 9-1-1 or our 24-hour emergency response number 888.Nicor4U (642.6748) from a safe location.

Detecting Gas Leaks

  • If you smell the rotten egg odor that is often associated with natural gas or suspect carbon monoxide is present, immediately leave the affected area and call 911 or the 24-hour emergency response line 888.Nicor4U (642.6748) from a safe location.
  • Never try to identify the source of a leak yourself.
  • If the odor of natural gas is present, do not use a telephone or cellphone in the area of the odor. Do not turn light switches on or off.
  • Do not operate any appliance or do anything that might cause a spark, such as lighting a match.

Damage Prevention

  • Heavy snow and ice may weigh down power lines and tree limbs, causing them to fall. If a natural gas meter is damaged or underground gas line is exposed, immediately leave the area and call 911 or the 24-hour emergency response line 888.Nicor4U (642.6748) from a safe location.