Letters to the Editor

A little bit of earthquake insurance

During an earthquake it is not uncommon to have gas lines break due to water heaters falling over or other causes. The pilot flame can set off gas escaping into the building and greatly increase the burning of the building along with killing trapped survivors.

It is commonly assumed that we are far enough away from major faults to be unaffected by earthquakes. Earthquake insurance here is quite costly, so the insurance companies obviously think it is not an insignificant risk.

There is a way to greatly reducing the possibility of fire — install an automatic shutoff valve on the gas line, which is triggered by an earthquake. Such equipment should be required in earthquake country, but it is not. In fact, it probably is not generally known by most homeowners.

PG&E should arrange for bids on massive installation of shutoff valves at the expense of the individual property owners. That should protect PG&E from any possible legal claims. Information on the need and cost of the shutoff could be sent along with regular bills at nominal cost. The shutoff valve is probably one of the cheapest insurance measures one can buy to the size of the hazard.