Utility Failure

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.

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.

Water quickly becomes a precious resource following many disasters. It is vital that all household members learn how to shut off the water at the main house valve. 

  • Before an emergency happens, locate the shut-off valve for the water line that enters your house and label this valve with a tag for easy identification. Make sure all household members know where it is located.

  • Make sure this valve can be completely shut off. Your valve may be rusted open or it 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.)

Natural gas leaks and explosions are responsible for a significant number of fires following disasters. It is vital that all household members know how to shut off natural gas.

Because there are different gas shut-off procedures for different gas meter configurations, it is important to contact your local gas company for any guidance on preparations and response regarding gas appliances and gas service to your home.

When you learn the proper shut-off procedure for your meter, share the information with everyone in your household. Be sure not to 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, if you can, and call the gas company from a neighbor’s home.

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