Disaster Preparedness

Turning Off Utilities

Learn to Shut Off Utilities

After a disaster where utilities have been disrupted, there may be a need to turn off certain utilities that can pose serious damage to your home and can potentially have lethal consequences. In case of an emergency, all responsible adults in the home should know where and how to operate the main shut-offs. It is also important that the area around each utility shut-off is kept clear of obstructions like furniture and storage items or, in the case of an outside shut-off, make sure plants have not overgrown the area.

Turning Off Natural Gas

  • There are different gas shut-off procedures for different gas meter configurations. Contact your local gas company for guidance on preparation and response regarding gas appliances and gas service to your home.
  • Don't turn off the gas when practicing the proper gas shut-off procedure.
  • 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 possible, 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.

Turning Off Water

Protect your home water sources from contamination if you hear reports of broken water or sewage lines or if local officials advise you of a problem.

  • To close the incoming water source, locate the incoming valve and turn it to the closed position. To use the water in your pipes, let air into the plumbing by turning on the faucet in your home at the highest level. A small amount of water will trickle out. Then obtain water from the lowest faucet in the home.
  • To use the water in your hot water tank, be sure the electricity or gas is off and open the drain at the bottom of the tank. Start the water flowing by turning off the water intake valve at the tank and turning on the hot water faucet. Refill the tank before turning the gas or electricity back on. If the gas is turned off, a professional will be needed to turn it back on.

Turning Off Electricity

  • On your circuit box, flip the breaker to the "off" position.

FOR YOUR SAFETY: Always shut off all the individual circuits before shutting off the main circuit breaker.