Utility Shut-Off & Safety

Fear is the foundation of safety. - Tertullian

In emergency situations, there may be times when it is necessary to turn off the gas, water or electricity coming into your house. Make sure you know in advance where on your property the gas valve, main breaker switch, water meter box and main water are located. Knowing how to shut off utilities is something that should be part of every emergency plan. When you learn the proper shut-off procedure for your utilities, share the information with everyone in your household.


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.

Locate you electrical circuit box. For your safety, always shut off all the individual circuits before shutting off the main circuit.

It is usually recommended that all individual circuits be turned off before the main is switched off. When restoring power the main should be turned on first, then the individual circuits.

Natural Gas

Natural gas leaks and explosions are responsible for a significant number of fires following disasters.

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.

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.

Caution: Be sure not to actually turn off the gas when practicing the proper gas shut-off procedures. 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.


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. 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.