How to Shut Off Utilities
In An Emergency

In case of a disaster of any type, it may be necessary to learn how to shut off utilities to avoid further damage to your family or your home.

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How to Shut Off Your Gas in an Emergency

Emergency Gas Shut-Off Wrench

It's a good idea to be familiar with the look and sound of your gas meter under everyday conditions, and know where the shut-off valve is located.

Turning off the gas after an emergency is not always necessary.

Leave the meter on unless the following conditions exist:

  • You smell natural gas;
  • You hear natural gas leaking (a hissing, blowing or roaring sound);
  • You see structural damage to your home;
  • There's fire in close proximity to your home;
  • You are told to do so by authorities.

Then, turn the meter off only if you can do it safely!

To shut off the gas in an emergency, take these precautions:

  • If it is dark, use only battery-powered flashlights or lanterns to help you find the meter.
  • Know where a wrench stored so it will be available.
  • The shut-off valve is located next to the meter on the inlet pipe.
  • Use a crescent wrench or an Emergency Gas Shut-Off Wrench and turn the valve a quarter turn in either direction so that it runs perpendicular (crosswise) to the pipe. The line is now closed.
  • Remember - once the gas is turned off, it can only be turned back on by a professional. In an emergency, that could take a week or more.

Do not use matches, lighters, or open flame appliances; operate electrical switches anywhere in your home; or start a car in your garage or driveway until you are sure no gas leaks exist. Flames and sparks from electrical switches could ignite gas, causing an explosion.

Remember, it may not be necessary to turn your meter off after an earthquake or other disaster. After the 1989 earthquake in San Francisco Bay Area, for example, 156,000 gas meters were turned off. According to the local gas company, this was only necessary in about 2% of the cases. Since natural gas meters should only be turned on by a utility (as mentioned), many customers in the Bay Area were unnecessarily without their natural gas service for days or even weeks.

How to Shut Off Your Water in an Emergency

How to Shut Off Your Water in an Emergency
  • Look for the shut-off valve outside if you live in a warm climate. It will typically be located where the water pipe enters the house Find the water meter and you'll locate the main shutoff nearby.
  • Find your shut-off valve in the basement in cold climates - it may be set into a wall or on the water pipe leading to the water heater.
  • Locate the shut-off valves on either side of the pressure tank if your water comes from a ground well. Turn off both valves.
  • Shut off the water by turning the valve clockwise until it won't turn any more.

If you need to find the city supply shut off valve.

Search along your front boundary line for a plastic or metal cover. It's usually approximately 12"-24" out from your fence line or curb.

To open the box:

  • Round lid: You need to insert a screw driver and turn the lid (while jiggling up and down) It will come free when its lugs line up with gaps.
  • Square or rectangle lid: Insert screw driver slot at one end and pry open.

To open the box:

  • Round lid: You need to insert a screw driver and turn the lid (while jiggling up and down) It will come free when its lugs line up with gaps.
  • Square or rectangle lid: Insert screw driver slot at one end and pry open.

Once you have the lid off you may now see a different type of tap top, but the principle will be the same.

  • Turn clockwise until firm.
  • Check to see if water has stopped running (front hose tap is the best.)

Tip: If shut off valve has not been off for some time, you may have to open and close a few times to free up tap thread.

How to Shut Off Your Electricity in an Emergency

Circuit Breaker Panel

Electrical sparks have the potential of igniting natural gas if it is leaking. It is wise to teach all responsible household members where and how to shut off the electricity.

Preparing to Shut Off Electricity

  • Locate your electrical circuit box.

  • Teach all responsible household members how to shut off the electricity to the entire house.

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

It is important that all family members know how to turn off all your utilities, so set aside a time to learn this together.

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