Utility Safety

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Water, electricity and gas are key services in our daily lives. Yet, these services can also be special dangers – especially during disasters. Learn ahead of time how to turn off the water, gas and electricity safely.

Report service outages directly to the service company. Then, take basic steps to keep your home safe. NEVER try to turn the gas back on yourself. Call a trained professional.

If there is no power in your neighborhood:

  1. Turn off and unplug appliances and computers. Leave one light on to show when the power has been turned back on.
  2. Find the electrical circuit box. Turn off individual circuits before shutting off the main circuit.
  3. Try not to use candles. They are fire hazards.
  4. Do not use a gas stove for heating. Do not use generators indoors or in the garage. They can cause deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.
  5. If you see downed power lines, assume they are energized and stay away from them. Then call the service company to report it.

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Natural gas leaks and explosions can cause fires after disasters.

Be sure everyone in the house knows how to turn off natural gas. Call the local gas company to find out what the correct way(s) to turn off the gas and to learn what are the types of protection regarding gas service to your home. Once you know the correct turn-off procedures, share this information with everyone in your home.

Do NOT actually turn off the gas when practicing the proper gas shut-off procedures. If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and get everyone out quickly. Turn off the gas using the outside main valve. Call the gas company from a neighbor’s home.

Caution: If you turn off the gas for any reason, a trained person must turn it back on. NEVER attempt to turn the gas back on yourself.

Water quickly becomes a prized resource following many disasters.

Before an emergency happens, locate the shut-off valve for the water line that enters your house. Label this valve with a tag so you can find it easily. Be sure everyone in the family knows where the valve is and how to shut off the water. Test the valve to be sure it can be completely shut off.

The valve may be rusted open or may only partially close. If so, replace it. Cracked lines may pollute the water supply to your house. It is wise to shut off your water until you hear from authorities that it is safe for drinking.

The effects of gravity may drain the water in your hot water heater and toilet tanks unless you trap it in your house by shutting off the main house valve. (This is not the street valve in the cement box at the curb – the street valve is extremely difficult to turn and requires a special tool.)

Electrical sparks can cause natural gas to spark if it is leaking. Teach all responsible household members where and how to turn off the electricity. Locate you electrical circuit box. For your safety, always turn off all the individual circuits before shutting off the main circuit.