Turning Off the Utilities

When disaster strikes it often affects one of more of the utility systems in our homes. Therefore, it is important to know where the main controls are located and to know when and how to turn them off. It is best to learn these things before disaster strikes. Here are a few helpful pointers.
  • Locate your gas meter valve and learn to turn off the gas.
  • If you suspect the shutoff valve is not working properly, call the utility company for an operational check.
  • Ensure a wrench is immediately available for turning the meter off in an emergency.
  • If you smell natural gas, evacuate immediately. Do not use matches, lighter, open flame appliances or operate electrical switches. Sparks could ignite gas causing an explosion.
  • Shut off the gas only if you smell gas or hear a hissing noise. Let the gas company turn the gas back on.
  • Seek the assistance of a plumber to repair gas pipe damage.
  • Locate your main electrical switch or fuse panel and learn how to turn the electrical system power off.
  • If a generator is used as a backup power supply remember to:
    • Follow the manufacturer's instructions.
    • Connect lights and appliances directly to the generator and not the electrical system.
  • Generators connected to a utility company's electrical system must be inspected by the utility and the state electrical inspector.
  • Clearly label the water shut off valve and learn to turn off the water supply.
  • Ensure valve can be fully turned off. If a special tool is needed, make sure 1 is readily available.
  • Shut off the main valve to prevent contamination of the water supply in your water heater and plumbing.
  • Your sewer system could be damaged in a disaster such as an earthquake, landslide or flood. Make sure the system is functioning as designed before using it. This will prevent the contamination of your home and possibly the drinking water supply.
  • Have a bucket or portable toilet available for disposing of human waste. Plastic bags placed in the toilet bowl will also work.
Gas Shut Off
Breaker Panel
Water Shut Off