Off the Utilities
When disaster strikes
it often affects one or 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
- Locate your gas meter valve and learn to turn off the
gas. The gas meter is usually found outside your residence
where most of the utilities are connected. The shut off
valve is usually found just beneath the gas meter on the
plumbing coming up from the ground into the meter.
- 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 candles, 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
- Let the gas company turn the gas back on.
- Seek the assistance of a plumber to repair gas pipe
Your sewer system
could be damaged in a disaster such as an earthquake, landslide
- 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.
If you have one of
the more modern septic systems that use an electrical pump
to force gray-water into the drain field, you may encounter
septic system problems during a power outage. If the electrical
power is off for an extended time, and you continue
to use water as you normally would, the septic tank will
quickly fill up and sewage may back-up into your home.
- To maintain the integrity of your septic system during
a power outage, restrict the amount of water you put down
- Have a bucket or portable toilet available for disposing
of human waste.
- Plastic bags placed in the toiled bowl will also work.
- 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
-Follow the manufacturer's instructions
-Connect lights and appliances directly to the generator
and not the electrical system
- Note: Generators connected to a utility company's electrical
system must be inspected by the utility and the state
- Clearly label the water shut off valve and learn to
turn off the water supply.
- Shut off valves may be found immediately adjacent to
your home, near the hot water heater or at the main water
meter, usually near the street.
- Ensure valve can be fully turned off. If a special tool
is needed, make sure one is readily available.
- Shut off the main valve to prevent contamination of
the water supply in your water heater and plumbing.