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Earthquake safety

You can do many things to keep your home and family safe during a major earthquake. Preparing for such an event is important, and knowing what to do during and after a disaster is crucial to keeping your family safe.

What to do during and after an earthquake

If you are indoors

Remain indoors if you are inside when an earthquake begins and take cover under a sturdy desk or table. Stay away from exterior walls and windows, fireplaces, tall furniture, hanging pictures and mirrors. If you are cooking, turn off the stove before you take cover.

If you are outdoors

Move away from buildings and power lines and watch out for falling debris. If you are driving when an earthquake begins, pull to the side of the road and stop where it is safe to do so. Do not stop on or under overpasses, bridges or tunnels. Do not stop under or near electrical power lines, light posts, trees or signs. Stay in your car until the earthquake is over.

When the shaking stops

First, check to make sure everyone around you is safe. Then inspect your building for damage.

  • If you think that gas is leaking, evacuate the building and don’t use anything electric (including turning lights off or on). The spark can ignite the gas. Electrical items include switches, appliances and telephones. Also, do not use your cell phone.
  • Turn off the gas service shutoff valve typically located near the gas meter, but only if it’s safe for you to do so and only if there is a gas leak.
  • If leaking gas starts to burn, do not try to put the flame out. Find a phone away from the building, call 9-1-1 immediately, then call PG&E at 1-800-743-5000.
  • Check for downed or damaged electric utility lines, stay away from them, and never touch them. Downed wires can still carry current and can shock, injure or even kill if touched.
  • Check for damaged household electrical wiring. Shut off the power at the main electric switch if you suspect any damage.
  • If your power goes out, turn off all electric appliances and unplug major electric appliances. This action helps prevent possible damage to the appliances when the power is restored.
What you can do to prepare
  • Learn how to shut off power
    Locate your gas service shutoff valve and learn how to turn off the gas if needed. Gas shutoff includes your main line and individual appliances. But, avoid turning off your home’s gas without a clear sign that it is leaking. Depending on how many customers are without gas service after an emergency event, it may take an extended period for PG&E to turn your gas services back on. Never turn your gas on yourself.
  • Pack a preparedness kit

    Make an emergency preparedness kit so your family can go without electricity and running water for at least 3 days. Remember to pack leashes, food, and water for your pets. Store emergency supplies in sealed containers such as plastic tubs that have been taped shut.

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  • Practice your plan
    Identify a location where your family can reunite if it’s necessary to evacuate your home. Decide on a second meeting place, in case the primary location is unusable. Thinking clearly during an emergency can be difficult, so practice your plan with household members, including pets, so that they are familiar with it. Review your plan with everyone in your household every three to six months.