Q. After an earthquake should I turn off my gas supply valve?
A. No. First, check on all occupants for any injuries. If the odor of gas is detected at any time, then shut off your gas supply at the main valve. Modern buildings are built to standards that resist most moderate earthquakes. The gas company does not recommend shutting off your gas unless you detect a leak. In addition, they may not be able to re-light your pilot light for several days due to a widespread demand. For safety reasons, the gas company always prefers to re-light your pilot light. They can also use their equipment to check for leaks during their appliance safety inspection.
Q. Immediately after a local disaster or major emergency, should I call my family and friends to let them know I am safe?
A. No. Only use your telephone or cellular phone to call for immediate assistance from public safety officials such as fire and medical aid. Check with the people around you at work or your neighbors by face-to-face contact. Phone systems frequently will be jammed with too many calls after catastrophic incidents. The phone lines should be kept clear for those who need to call 9-1-1 for immediate emergency assistance. After the most critical calls have been made, it may be reasonable to make your call. It’s a judgment call you will have to make.
Q. How long should I be able to sustain myself in my home without outside assistance?
A. You should plan to take care of yourself and your family for at least five days—that means food, water, medicine, battery-operated lights, etc. Assume that you won’t have utilities like electricity or water and plan accordingly. In a major disaster, it may be several days before the government is able to check on everyone. It also takes time for outside supplies to be delivered to your community. Therefore, have an emergency plan and be prepared.