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Letters : Wanted: One Real Turnoff

August 03, 1986

In recent days I have become increasingly concerned about earthquake preparedness. So I bought new flashlights and batteries, stocked up on bottled water and tried to find out where my gas main is so I can turn it off. Emergency preparedness experts (and even gas company literature) indicate this is an essential step in case the "big one" strikes.

The trouble is, I can't find the gas main (or meter) and the gas company won't show me--unless I stay home a day from work.

I called them and initially got a rude individual who told me that it was "obvious" where it was and that the company would not send anyone out to show me. "We don't have time to do that."

I called back and got a second operator who said her computer records showed that my meter (the main valve is supposed to be under the meter) was in the "right middle" of the house. That's all, right middle. Well, I have searched under, over and around my house and can't find any gas meter. Electric meter, yes, (plainly marked "City of Los Angeles" and "kilowatt hours"). No, my landlord doesn't know either.

This second operator said a representative would come around between "8:30 and 5" to show me the meter. I explained that I work and can't stay home all day. I asked if the representative could leave a note on my door describing the location. She did not think this was possible. "If the representative comes and no one is home, he will leave a note saying, 'Sorry we missed you.' He will not take any action unless someone is home."

I don't think this makes any sense. If the gas company is really sincere about protecting people in earthquakes, it should have procedures in place to help customers deal with this problem.


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