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October 26, 2004 > Pacific Gas and Electric Company Offers Earthquake Preparedness

Pacific Gas and Electric Company Offers Earthquake Preparedness

On October 17, 1989, at 5:04 p.m., the earth was shaken for 15 seconds by a magnitude 7.1 earthquake. The Loma Prieta earthquake took lives, destroyed homes, buildings, and freeways and disrupted commerce throughout the greater Bay Area. Since that day 15 years ago, Pacific Gas and Electric Company has reinforced its messages about the importance of being prepared for an earthquake and other natural disasters. Included in the October PG&E bill, consumers will find an easy-to-use guide to help understand gas and electric safety and how to be prepared for the next earthquake or emergency.
"Science cannot yet predict when or where the next quake will occur, and we certainly cannot stop one from happening. That requires each of us to be as prepared as possible," said David Powell, Pacific Gas and Electric's public safety program manager.

"There is much we can do to prepare ourselves and our loved ones in advance to deal effectively with the aftermath of a quake. We urge everyone to take the time to prepare by following the simple steps below, and by logging on to for even more information," said Harold Brooks, CEO of the American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter.

Earthquakes are a fact of life in California. When an earthquake or other natural disaster occurs, everything we depend on - natural gas, electricity, water and emergency services - may be interrupted. As the anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake nears, PG&E offers the following earthquake safety tips to protect your family and home before, during and after an earthquake.

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 pipe or crescent-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 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 and call PG&E and the fire department immediately. If you are able to 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 quake, you may not have outside help for at least three days. If you know how to respond during and after an earthquake you'll be able to stay calmer. The best way to be ready is to be educated. 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, of course, PG&E (

This reminder is part of an ongoing effort by PG&E, the Red Cross and others to enhance emergency preparedness in California.

"We have enhanced our emergency preparation partnerships with communities throughout northern and central California, and are helping provide valuable information to the public," said PG&E's Powell.

"We are proud of our long-term partnership with PG&E and the good work we've done together over the years in helping make our communities safer places to live," added Red Cross CEO Brooks.

For more information about Pacific Gas and Electric Company and additional safety tips, please visit our website at

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