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PG&E Offers Earthquake Preparedness Tips on 18th Anniversary of the Loma Prieta Earthquake

Release Date: October 17, 2007
Contact: PG&E External Communications (415) 973-5930

SAN FRANCISCO—Eighteen years ago today, the Loma Prieta earthquake violently shook the greater Bay Area, destroying homes, toppling freeways and disrupting life. Since that day, Pacific Gas and Electric Company has continually reinforced the importance of emergency preparedness with our customers.

Earthquakes are part of living in California. When an earthquake or other natural disaster occurs, everything we depend on–natural gas, electricity, water and emergency services–may be interrupted. To help customers prepare for natural disasters and understand gas and electric safety, PG&E offers emergency preparedness tips online at www.pge.com.

To protect your family and home before, during and after an earthquake, PG&E offers the following earthquake safety tips:

  • Prepare: Have an emergency plan ready and conduct an emergency drill with your family. Make sure children, childcare providers and other family members know your safety procedures. By planning and practicing what to do, you can condition yourself and your family to react correctly when an earthquake or other emergency occurs.
  • 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, open windows and doors and get everyone outside. Find a phone away from the building to call 911, PG&E and the fire department immediately. If you are able to do so safely, shut off the gas valve at the 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. Contact PG&E or another qualified professional to restore gas service to your home and check for gas leaks.
  • 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.

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 (www.redcross.org), the California Office of Emergency Services (www.oes.ca.gov), and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (www.fema.gov).


For more information about Pacific Gas and Electric Company and additional safety tips, please visit our website at www.pge.com/safety.

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