PG&E Wants Every California Family and Business to Have an Earthquake Plan

Utility offers customers tips for staying safe before, during and after a natural disaster

SAN FRANCISCO--()--The 6.0 Napa earthquake last August was a wake-up call for many California families and businesses to take earthquake plans seriously. After the quake, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) initiated its emergency plans to restore power to all impacted customers in about 26 hours and to quickly assess the safety of the gas system. Many customers’ emergency plans were also put to the test. During Earthquake Preparedness Month in April, PG&E reminds customers how important it is to be ready to help reduce the possibility of injuries and damage to property that may occur during a quake.

“Earthquakes in California are inevitable, so our focus is to ensure our employees are prepared before one strikes. We test our systems, procedures and people regularly to make sure we’re ready to respond to natural disasters immediately, and we encourage our customers to develop and test their emergency response plans as well,” said Barry Anderson vice president of emergency preparedness and operations for PG&E.

PG&E and its customers have benefitted from major advancements in infrastructure, technology and preparedness to make its systems and the communities it serves more resilient to earthquakes. Investments in infrastructure, better construction techniques and stronger, more flexible materials have hardened PG&E’s gas and electric systems; particularly in fault areas.

PG&E offers these safety tips for before, during and after an earthquake to help keep customers safe:

Before

  • 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 appropriately when an earthquake or other emergency occurs.
  • Have emergency supplies on hand such as a portable radio and 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Customers with generators should make sure they are properly installed by a licensed electrician in a well-ventilated area. Improperly installed generators pose a significant danger to crews working on power lines.

During

  • If you are indoors, stay inside. Get under a sturdy desk or table.
  • If you are cooking in the kitchen, quickly turn off the stove before you take cover.
  • If you are outdoors, move 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.

After

  • 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 911 and PG&E at 1-800-743-5002 immediately.
  • If you suspect a gas leak, do not use electrical switches, appliances or phones, because sparks can ignite gas from broken lines. Do not check for a gas leak with a match or an open flame.
  • 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 the power goes out, unplug major appliances to prevent possible damage when the power is turned back on.
  • Never go near a power line that has fallen to the ground or is dangling in the air. Always assume downed electric lines are energized and extremely dangerous. If you see damaged power lines or electrical equipment, call 911 immediately and then notify PG&E at 1-800-743-5002.

After a major earthquake, you may not have outside help for several days. The best way to be ready is to be educated and prepared. 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), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (www.fema.gov), and, of course, PG&E (www.pge.com/safety).

The Red Cross also has Natural Disaster apps for your smart phone that provide helpful information for earthquakes and other types of emergencies at www.redcross.org/prepare/mobile-apps.

About PG&E

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 more than 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation’s cleanest energy to nearly 16 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit www.pge.com/ and www.pge.com/en/about/newsroom/index.page.

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Pacific Gas and Electric Company
Brian Swanson, 415-973-5930

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