School communities

Prevent gas leaks on school property

Remember that the size of the project doesn't matter—even planting a tree can damage a gas line and result in a gas leak.

Download free teacher and students materials about how to stay safe around natural gas and electricity.

Damage from digging is a common cause of gas pipeline accidents. Whether you're planting a tree or a garden, or digging holes for fence posts, call 811 at least two business days before you plan to start your project. Avoid accidents by ensuring your maintenance supervisor or contractor follows these steps when planning a project. For more information, visit California811.

Take these steps to prevent natural gas leaks

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Call 811

Whether you are planting a tree, digging holes for fence posts or driving stakes for concrete, call 811 at least two business days before you plan to start your project. Call 811 at least two business days before you dig – the service is free.

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Identify and mark your digging area

Identify and mark your digging area with a white substance such as chalk, spray paint, flour or marking whiskers, tags, stakes or any combination.

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Leave the marks in place

PG&E and other companies will use colored utility flags, stakes or paint to mark underground lines following the American Public Works Association Uniform Color Code (PNG, 130 KB). Please leave the marks in place until you are finished digging. The marks are valid for 28 days.

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Use handheld digging tools when digging within 24 inches of the outside edge

Only use hand digging tools, such as shovels, within the 24-inch zone.  After finishing your project, carefully backfill and compact the soil.

For additional information about 811 or to make an online request, go to the Underground Service Alert North or DigAlert websites.



Recognize signs of a natural gas leak

Your school community can play a vital role in natural gas safety by knowing the signs of a natural gas leak.


We add a distinctive, sulfur-like, rotten egg odor so you can detect even small amounts of natural gas. However, DO NOT rely only on your sense of smell to detect the presence of natural gas.

Some people may not be able to smell the odor due to a diminished sense of smell, olfactory fatigue (normal, temporary inability to distinguish an odor after prolonged exposure), or because it is masked or hidden by other odors that are present. Also, certain conditions in the pipe and soil can cause odor fade—the loss of odorant so that it is not detectable by smell.


Pay attention to hissing, whistling or roaring sounds coming from underground or from a gas appliance.


Be aware of dirt spraying into the air; continual bubbling in a pond, creek, puddle or other source of standing water; as well as dead or dying vegetation in an otherwise moist area.

What to do if you suspect a gas leak or damaged gas line

  • Alert the entire school community and, following evacuation procedures, leave the area immediately to an upwind location.
  • Until you are a safe distance upwind, do not use anything that could be a source of ignition including electric switches or your cell phone.
  • Call 911 for emergency assistance and then call PG&E at 1-800-743-5000.

Get free safe-kids materials

PG&E provides teachers and students with free materials about how to stay safe around natural gas and electricity.

PG&E is committed to serving your school and community and ensuring a safe environment for everyone. For more information about gas safety, learn more about PG&E's gas safety programs or email us at