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Remember Electrical Safety as You Participate in the “Great ShakeOut” Feb. 7

For Release: February 2, 2012

Contact: Kyla Kruse, 217-546-6815

 

Remember Electrical Safety as You Participate in the “Great ShakeOut” Feb. 7

Safety Tips for Avoiding Electrical Hazards Following Earthquakes


(SPRINGFIELD, Ill.) — On Tuesday, February 7, people at businesses, schools and organizations across the Central United States will participate in an earthquake drill at 10:15 a.m. CST. The drill is part of the Great ShakeOut Central U.S., which promotes earthquake awareness and preparedness.

Safe Electricity® encourages those in participating states, as well as other earthquake prone areas of the country, to be aware of electrical hazards that can follow an earthquake and how to stay safe from them.

The states in the Great ShakeOut include Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi. All nine states could feel tremors from an earthquake in the New Madrid Seismic Zone, and most could feel the effects of a quake in the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone.

“Earthquakes are terrifying and devastating events,” says Molly Hall, executive director of the Safe Electricity program. “Unfortunately, the danger is not over when the shaking stops. Communities are still vulnerable to explosions, fires and electrical accidents. Understanding electrical hazards can be a matter of life or death in such a situation.”

The New Madrid Seismic Zone is responsible for three of the 10 most powerful earthquakes in the contiguous U.S. In fact, this year marks the bicentennial of the New Madrid earthquakes that rocked the central states in December 1811 and continued into February 1812. The anniversary is a reminder of the importance of earthquake awareness.

Experts at the Great ShakeOut recommend that when you feel the earth shake, drop to the floor, cover by getting underneath sturdy furniture and hold on to the piece of furniture until the shaking stops.

When the earthquake stops, follow these tips from Safe Electricity:

  • In the home, do not use electronics, matches or lighters until you are sure there is no gas leak.

  • If you are in a severely damaged building, leave and go to an open space outside.

  • Be alert to dangers that could be hidden by debris, including downed power lines and broken gas pipes. If you hear hissing, smell gas or notice sagging utility lines, stay away and alert the utility(s).

  • Stay away from downed power lines, and warn others to do the same. Buildings, trees, cars, debris, even other utility lines and other objects can become electrical hazards if they are in contact with a power line, so be cautious.

  • If you can, turn off electricity at the main breaker. If your house is unstable or you must stand in water to do so, do not turn off electricity. Overturned and damaged water heaters and damaged electric circuitry can cause explosions and fires. Turning off electricity prevents this.

  • If you smell gas or suspect a leak, open windows in the home if you can do so safely, and then get out of the house. If the smell is strong, leave immediately without touching any switches. Once outside call 9-1-1, and notify your gas utility. If you can, shut of the main gas valve. Find the shut-off valve at your gas meter, and twist it with a wrench in either direction until it is off. Do not turn the gas back on; only a professional can safely do this.

  • Aftershocks can be just as powerful as earthquakes. Be prepared, and practice the same safety procedures you would during an earthquake.

  • If you smell gas or suspect a leak, get out of the house. If the smell is strong, leave immediately without touching any switches. Once outside, call 9-1-1, and notify your gas utility.

As part of its national Teach Learn Care TLC campaign, Safe Electricity urges everyone to understand vital safety measures to take in the wake of earthquakes and to share that information with others. For more information on earthquake safety, visit www.shakeout.org/centralus, and for more on electrical safety inside and outside of the home, visitSafeElectricity.org.

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The Energy Education Council is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization dedicated to promoting electrical safety and energy efficiency. Established in 1952, the Council is headquartered within the University of Illinois Extension, and serves as a forum for diverse utility and energy organizations to collaborate on the mutually vital issues of efficiency and safety. Learn more at www.EnergyEdCouncil.org.