Natural Gas Safety
Why natural gas?
Natural gas is the cleanest burning of all fossil fuels that powers industries and heats more than half of all American homes.
North America has a natural gas delivery system that includes nearly two million miles of natural gas transmission pipeline. This system has an outstanding safety record. It is operated and maintained in accordance with strict federal and state regulatory requirements.
Detecting a natural gas leak
It's common knowledge that we can use our sense of smell to detect natural gas leaks in most cases. But untreated natural gas is odorless, so it's important to use your other senses to detect a potential leak:
- Smell: Natural gas doesn’t have an odor. To help you detect a leak, we add mercaptan, an odorant which smells like rotting eggs or a skunk smell.
- Sight: Natural gas may blow dirt, make bubbles, kill vegetation or create an area of frost on the ground in warm weather if it leaks from an underground pipe.
- Sound: Natural gas can make a quiet hiss or a loud roar.
Hazards of a natural gas leak
Why is it important for you to detect and report potential gas leaks? High concentrations of natural gas in the air can pose serious safety hazards to people and property in the area.
- Fire or explosion: Natural gas is extremely flammable and easily ignited by heat, sparks or flames.
- Health: Although natural gas isn’t fatal if inhaled, there can still be symptoms of a prolonged exposure, such as headache, dizziness, loss of coordination, irritation, drowsiness or unconsciousness.
If you detect a gas leak
- Leave the area immediately, and don’t touch anything that could cause a spark. Do not attempt to locate the leak.
- Call MidAmerican Energy at 800-595-5325 and dial 911 from another location at a safe distance. MidAmerican Energy will investigate the situation at no cost.
- Do not reenter the area until you’ve been advised that it is safe.
Before you dig
Any time you plan to dig on your property – either as part of a construction job or a homeowner project – you must contact your local One Call agency at least two full working days before you dig. It's the law. This free service helps keep you and your family safe by marking underground pipes and wires so that you don't damage utilities or create a hazard while digging.
Call 811 from anywhere to reach your local One Call service or submit a locate request online. Click here to learn more about digging safety.
Natural gas inside your home
Furnaces, water heaters, ranges and gas fireplaces are examples of appliances that may use natural gas in your home.
Keep your home safe from a natural gas leak by:
- Having regular inspections and maintenance performed by a qualified technician.
- Keeping areas around appliances clean and clear of obstructions.
- Never storing flammable liquids near gas appliances.
- Contacting a qualified plumbing and heating contractor to check gas connectors to clothes dryers or gas ranges for corrugated stainless steel tubing.
- Always place end caps on pipes after removing gas appliances – don’t rely on a valve alone.
Natural gas outside your home
- Gas meters: If you notice obstructions around the meter – like ice build-up – or if you will be completing work that may require relocation of gas meters, notify us at 888-427-5632.
- Customer-owned facilities: Pipes that run to a natural gas grill, garage or outbuilding and pipes that connect your meter to your furnace or water heater are the responsibility of the customer. We do not maintain customer-owned gas piping. Please contact a qualified plumber or private contractor for repairs or to locate customer-owned gas piping if you plan to dig on your property.
- Corrugated stainless steel tubing: CSST is piping that may have been installed if your home or business was built after 1990. If CSST has been used at your home or business, contact a licensed electrician for confirmation that a bonding device was installed to the ground.
Excess Flow Valves
In accordance with federal regulations, you may request that MidAmerican Energy install an excess flow valve (EFV) on your existing gas service line. An EFV is a mechanical safety device installed on a gas service line between the gas main and the gas meter. Although an EFV is not required for the normal, safe operation of your gas service line, an EFV could help mitigate the consequences of a service line break by restricting or stopping gas flow should your service line sustain damage. The EFV will not, however, provide protection for small leaks at the meter or beyond the meter on the customer piping.
We go above and beyond to ensure the safety and security of our natural gas distribution pipeline and transmission facilities, ensuring that the public, our employees and the environment is protected at all times. Learn more about MidAmerican Energy’s integrity management programs.