Sometimes during a disaster you will need to shut off your utilities. It is very important that every family member know how to shut off all of the utilities in case of an emergency.
All family member s should know where the electricity circuit box is in your home. It is usually located on an interior wall near your meter.
Picture by:James Williams
Teach your family members how to shut off electricity to the entire house. It is best to shut off all individual circuits before shutting off the main circuit breaker. Also it is a good idea to make sure that all appliances and electrical equipment is off so that when the power is turned back on it doesn't cause an overload on the system.
To turn off the power on a fuse box, you will pull out the two main fuses.
If you have flooding or have to step in water to get the electrical box it is best to call an electrician.
If a disaster damages any walls in your house it is a good idea to turn off the electricity because there could be wiring/electrical damage which could cause a fire. You should have the house inspected before turning the power back on.
Water is probably one of the easiest utilities to turn off. It is important that all family members know how to turn off the water at the main house valve.
Picture By: Michael Pereckas
Many things could happen that warrant you turning off your water. Some would be cracked lines which can cause flooding. The water supply can become polluted during disasters and by shutting off the water it will keep the polluted water from polluting the water supply to your home. Also, the water in the hot water tank can become a precious commodity during times that there is no water. Gravity will cause the toilets and hot water heater to drain if you do not turn off the main water valve.
Teach all family members where the main water valve is for your home. Some of the common places that it could be located is near the garage where the water line enters the house, or by the hot water heater or washing machine.
It is best to label the water valve so family members can easily identify it.
To turn off the water, all you have to do is turn the valve until it is fully closed. It is best to check this valve every so often as it can get rusted and not want to turn.
Gas leaks after a disaster are responsible for many fires and explosions so it is vital that every member of the family be able to turn off the gas.
If you smell gas or hear blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave. Turn off the gas at your meter immediately. Don’t use your telephone, cellular phones or any devices that have a battery. They can spark and cause an explosion. Also, I would think it would go without saying, but don’t use matches, lighters or open flame appliances. You also should not turn on or off any electrical switches. You need to just evacuate immediately.
The gas meter will require a special tool or an adjustable wrench to turn it off. I do not have gas in my home but if I did I would connect or tie a gas shut off tool next to the meter so I wouldn't have to look for it in an emergency. In order to turn off the gas turn the knob a quarter of a turn clockwise to where it is in a horizontal position. Once the gas is off go to a neighbor’s house and call 911 and the gas company.
VERY IMPORTANT: Once your gas has been turned off by the meter, you cannot turn it back on. It has to be turned back on by a professional.