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PG&E Offers Tips for Earthquake Preparedness

On Anniversary of 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, Utility Urges Customers to be Prepared

Release Date: October 16, 2012
Contact: PG&E External Communications (415) 973-5930

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – In marking the anniversary of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in the greater Bay Area, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) offers life-saving tips to help prepare customers for earthquakes and other natural disasters.

When an earthquake or other natural disaster occurs, natural gas and electric service could be interrupted. PG&E employees routinely practice their emergency roles and responsibilities to prepare for natural disasters, and the utility urges customers to also take steps to be prepared for such an emergency. PG&E provides helpful information online at

The following earthquake preparedness tips can help keep customers and their families safe:


  • 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.
  • 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.


  • 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 gas escaping inside your home or business, get everyone outside immediately to a location upwind where you no longer can smell natural gas. Do not use electrical switches, appliances or phones because sparks can ignite gas from broken gas lines or unlit gas appliances. Do not check for a gas leak with a match or an open flame. Once outside, use your phone from a safe distance to call 911 and PG&E at 1-800-743-5002.
  • If you smell or hear gas escaping inside your home or business, and you are able to do so safely, shut off the gas at the appliance valve or the main gas service shutoff valve. The main gas service shutoff valve is normally located near your gas meter and will require the use of a 12- to 15-inch adjustable pipe or crescent-type wrench or other suitable tool. Do not shut off the main 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 gas appliance pilots are re-lit.
  • If the power goes out, unplug or turn off all electric appliances to avoid overloading circuits and fire hazards when power is restored. Simply leave a single lamp on to alert you when power returns. Turn your appliances back on one at a time when conditions return to normal.
  • During a power outage use battery-operated flashlights, not candles. Candles pose a fire risk, and you should avoid using them. If you must use candles, keep them away from drapes, lampshades and small children. Do not leave candles unattended.
  • Treat all low-hanging and downed power lines as if they are energized and extremely dangerous. Keep yourself and others away from them. Be aware of trees and other objects that may be touching power lines. Call 911, and then notify PG&E at 1-800-743-5002.

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. For more information, visit and


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