SAN FRANCISCO – More than two decades after the Loma Prieta earthquake rattled the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) reminds customers of the importance of preparing for natural disasters.
When an earthquake or other natural disaster occurs, natural gas and electric service can be interrupted. PG&E employees routinely practice their emergency roles and responsibilities to prepare for natural disasters, and the utility also provides emergency preparedness information for customers online at www.pge.com/safetycentral.
The following earthquake preparedness tips can help keep customers and their families safe and protected:
•Prepare: Have an emergency plan ready and conduct drills with your family. Make sure children, childcare providers and other family members know your safety procedures.
•Stock-up: Have emergency supplies on hand such as a portable radio with extra batteries, flashlights with fresh batteries, bottled water, a first aid kit, blankets, food, alternative cooking fuel, a minimum two week supply of needed medications, and extra crescent or pipe-type wrenches for turning off gas and water mains if necessary.
•Educate: Know how and when to turn off electricity, water and gas at the main switch and valves. Securely anchor water heaters and other heavy appliances. Secure tall, heavy furniture that could topple. Always store flammable liquids safely away from ignition sources like water heaters, furnaces or stoves.
•Anticipate: Know the safe spots in each room, like under a sturdy desk or table. Remember to stay away from windows, mirrors, hanging objects and fireplaces.
•If you are indoors, stay inside. Get under a sturdy desk or table.
•If you are cooking in the kitchen, turn off the stove and other appliances if it is possible to do so safely before you take cover.
•If you are outdoors, get into the open, away from buildings, trees, walls and power lines. Be alert for falling debris.
•If you are driving, pull to the side of the road and stop. Do not park under overpasses, power lines, light posts, trees or signs. Stay in your car until the earthquake is over.
•Check for injuries and ensure that everyone is safe.
•Check for damage. If you smell or hear escaping gas, get everyone outside. Find a phone away from the building to call 911 and PG&E (1-800-743-5000) immediately.
•If you smell or hear gas escaping, and are able to do so safely, shut off the gas at the main gas service shutoff valve using a 12 to 15 inch adjustable pipe or crescent-type wrench or other suitable tool. The valve is normally located near your gas meter. Do not shut off the valve unless you smell or hear gas escaping.
•Once you shut-off the gas, DO NOT turn it back on. If the gas service shutoff valve is closed, contact PG&E or another qualified professional to perform a safety inspection before the gas service is restored and the appliance pilots are lit.
•If you suspect a gas leak, do not use electrical switches, appliances or telephones, because sparks can ignite gas from broken lines. Do not check for a gas leak with a match or an open flame.
•If the power goes out, unplug major appliances to prevent possible damage when the power is turned back on.
•Plan evacuation routes from places where tsunamis present a risk to you and your family (home, school, workplace). If possible, pick areas 100 feet above sea level or two miles inland. You should be able to reach your safe location on foot within 15 minutes.
After a major earthquake, outside help may not be available for at least three days. PG&E urges customers to prepare and learn how to respond during and after an earthquake. Useful emergency preparedness information can be found at the following websites: The American Red Cross, the California Office of Emergency Services, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Earthquake Country Alliance.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation’s cleanest energy to 15 million people in Northern and Central California.
See Related: 72Hours Disaster Preparedness