With the fall season now underway, bone-dry drought conditions have made the western United States a tinderbox prime for wildfires. That, combined with the threat of earthquakes, floods and landslides, makes it essential for Californians to be prepared for disasters. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) reminds its customers that the best time to prepare for an emergency or natural disaster is before it happens.
Start by gathering supplies and creating an emergency kit that will last for several days after a disaster for everyone living in your home. Be sure to include flashlights, fresh batteries, first aid supplies and cash. If you already have a kit, make sure it’s up to date.
Don’t forget to pack a go-bag, a bag of essential items ready for use in case you need to evacuate your home. Consider the unique needs of everyone in your family, including elderly, children and pets.
Emergency Preparation Tips
Plan for multiple evacuation routes and discuss them with your family.
If you own a generator, make sure it’s ready to operate safely.
Make sure you know how to open your garage door manually, as it may not function if the power is out.
Have cash on hand and a full tank of gas.
Keep mobile phones fully charged.
Identify backup charging methods and keep hard copies of emergency numbers.
Plan for medications that require refrigeration or devices that need power.
Have masks and hand sanitizer readily available, both at home and in your car.
Electric Safety Tips
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, pools of water and other objects that may be in contact with power lines. If you see damaged power lines and electric equipment, call 9-1-1, and then notify PG&E at 1-800-743-5000.
If your vehicle comes in contact with a downed power line:
Stay inside. The safest place is in your car. The ground around your car may be energized.
Honk the horn, roll down your window and yell for help.
Warn others to stay away. Anyone who touches the equipment or ground around the vehicle may be injured.
Use your mobile phone to call 9-1-1.
Fire department, police and PG&E workers will tell you when it is safe to get out of the vehicle.
If there is a fire and you have to exit a vehicle that has come in contact with downed power lines:
Remove loose items of clothing.
Keep your hands at your sides and jump clear of the vehicle, so you are not touching the car when your feet hit the ground.
Keep both feet close together and shuffle away from the vehicle without picking up your feet.
Gas Safety Tips
If you are ordered to evacuate, please evacuate as soon as possible. Do not shut off your gas service just because of the evacuation order.
If you smell gas, hear gas escaping, see a broken gas line, or suspect a gas leak, you can shut off your gas line, but only if it is safe to do so. Alert others and evacuate the area to an upwind location if possible.
If you smell gas, do not use anything that could be a source of ignition, including candles, cell phones, flashlights, light switches, matches or vehicles, until you are a safe distance away.
Customers who smell gas should vacate the premises immediately, call 9-1-1 and then PG&E at 1-800-743-5000.
For additional information related to gas service, visit the website at pge.com/gassafety.
It can be hard to imagine what an evacuation might feel like and what you would grab first, if you had the chance. In a recent video on PG&E’s Safety Action Center website, you can watch a Sierra foothills family put through a simulated wildfire evacuation to demonstrate how being prepared can help bring calm to the chaos. Customers can get updates on power outages in their neighborhood using PG&E’s outage information line at 1-800-743-5002 and PG&E’s Electric Outage Map online at pge.com.