Emergency Info


Emergency conditions involving underground facilities include:

Leaks, ruptures, explosions, fires, severe settling or soil movement, weakened or damaged facilities and similar instances where immediate action is necessary to prevent loss of life, injury to persons, or damage to property and the environment.

Every situation is different and must be evaluated on the individual circumstances. Below are general emergency response guidelines for various emergency/damage situations involving underground facilities.

Know the Hazards

  • Natural gas and other petroleum products will ignite and burn. If exposed to the skin, serious irritations may occur. Escaping gases can displace oxygen.
  • Electricity will arc or short to ground, producing heat that is up to four times greater than the heat of the sun. At a minimum, it will burn skin and damage internal organs. High voltage electricity can arc significant distances through the air. Be aware of the above-ground high voltage lines and keep any part of the equipment at least 10-feet away from overhead lines.
  • Water under pressure can cause serious injury. Wastewater contains bacteria that can be a significant health risk. Sewer gas will ignite and burn.

Recognize Unsafe Conditions

  • Pools of liquid, blowing dirt, hissing sounds, vapor clouds, gaseous odors, bubbles in standing water, dead vegetation, and frozen soil or ice next to pipelines are all signs of a natural gas or petroleum leak and should be treated as an emergency.
  • Treat contact with any electric line as an emergency regardless of whether it appears undamaged, damaged, or severed, including contact with above-ground high voltage lines.
  • Utilities often jointly use trenches, placing you at higher risk in trenches that have electricity.
  • Wet or discolored soil is an indication of a water/sewer leak and should be treated as a potential emergency condition.

Never bury a damaged facility.

Even a minor scrape, nick, cut, tear, break or dent should be reported to the facility owner immediately. If not promptly repaired, it could result in a future leak, service outage, explosion, accident, injury or death.

Respond Immediately

Natural Gas and Petroleum Liquids

  1. Turn off equipment if it can be done safely.
  2. Abandon all equipment and get a safe distance away.
  3. Avoid open flames or anything that might start a fire. Do not start motor vehicles or electrical equipment.
  4. Remove all ignition sources (cigarettes, cell phones, or anything that could create a spark or static electricity).
  5. Evacuate the area and keep people out.
  6. Do not make contact with escaping liquids.
  7. Do not operate any pipeline valves.
  8. If appropriate, call 911 or your local fire, police, or sheriff’s office.
  9. Do not try to put out a fire. If it’s burning, let it burn; ask local firefighters to observe and protect adjacent property.
  10. Contact the facility operator immediately to report the condition.


  1. Only move equipment in contact with overhead or underground electric lines if you can move it away safely.
  2. If excavator equipment remains in contact with electric equipment, it’s safest to stay on equipment (unless on fire) till rescue workers arrive; keep others away. If you must abandon equipment, jump clear of it, landing with both feet on ground at same time, and then only shuffle or hop away.
  3. If a buried electrical line is struck in wet soil/conditions, the ground may become energized for a large area around the strike. (Hopping or shuffling away will help reduce your risk to step potential.)
  4. Contact the facility operator immediately to report the condition.
  5. If appropriate, call 911 for local emergency response.

Water and Sewer

  1. Evacuate the area immediately and keep people out. Leaking water can fill a trench quickly, making escape extremely difficult.
  2. Do not close valves to stop flooding. Closing the wrong valve may affect fire flows or possible contamination of potable systems.
  3. Be careful of damaged high-pressure water lines because even the slightest scratch or vibration can cause pipelines to break.
  4. Move carefully around trenches with wet walls. West soil can easily cave in and cause suffocation.
  5. Avoid contact with wastewater. Do not wade in or work around sewage.
  6. Sewer gas is flammable; avoid open flames or anything that might start a fire.
  7. Contact the facility operator immediately to report the condition.

Fiber and Communication

  1. If fiber optic cable is cut, do not look into the end of it. Severe eye damage may occur.
  2. Contact the facility operator and report the condition.

Fill out the form: click here to view it on a separate page