Gas leaks: Know the signs and what to do in an emergency

Be alert

Gas leaks can be extremely dangerous. A fire, explosion, property damage or serious bodily injury could occur when natural gas leaks from an appliance, damaged pipeline or gas meter. Be alert to the following signs you may see, hear or smell when there’s a gas leak.


  • A damaged connection to a gas appliance.
  • Dirt, water or debris being blown in 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 an appliance, gas meter or pipeline.


  • The distinctive odor of natural gas.

    Please note: You may not be able to smell this odor for any number of reasons, such as: a diminished sense of smell; olfactory fatigue (normal, temporary inability to distinguish an odor after prolonged exposure to it); or the presence of other odors (such as cooking, damp, musty or chemical smells) that mask or hide the odorant added to natural gas. In addition, certain conditions in pipes and soil can cause odor fade – the loss of odorant so that it is not detectable by smell.

See safety bulletin

Respond immediately

If you suspect a natural gas leak, here’s what you should do:

  • Immediately evacuate the area.
  • From a safe location, call 911 or call SDG&E at 1-800-611-7343, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Remain calm.
  • Don’t smoke, or light a match, candle or other flame.
  • Don’t turn electric appliances or lights on or off, operate machinery, or use any device that could cause a spark. Note that gas leaking from a plastic pipe can create static electricity that can ignite the gas.