Don’t wait for an emergency to make plans to shut off gas, water or electric. The actions taken in the initial minutes of an emergency are critical. Homeowners should know how to turn off to turn off the utilities to their home in case of a leak or other hazard. A few simple steps can help homeowners protect the safety of their family members and neighbors.
You should start by locating all utility meters to your home. Their exact locations may vary according to the particular design of each home. Typically a gas meter with a shut-off valve is located on the outside of the home near the foundation wall. The water meter lid is usually located nearby the street in front of the home. The meter and shut-off valve are both located underneath a lid in a small meter box.
Electric meters are typically outside of the home, but sometimes the fuse boxes are located in another area such as a closet in the home or in the garage.
Know the proper way to turn off each utility. The following three steps show how to turn off the most common utility sources.
- Water: Go to the water meter and gas meter and search for the shut-off valve. A water meter shut-off valve will typically appear in the shape of rectangular lever or round wheel handle. Purchase an adjustable wrench that is at least 12 inches or buy a water valve shut off tool from your local hardware store and keep it in easily accessible place in your home. Turn the lever with the wrench or turn the wheel with your hand to the right to shut off the water. The meter gauge should show a gradual loss of pressure until the water to the home will no longer run. Sometimes neighbors will share a water meter box, in which case homeowners should verify the shut-off valve that connects to their home. If you share a water meter box with neighbors, after reading the information in this blog it is a good idea to check and make sure that you know which shut-off valve controls your home.
- Gas: To turn off the gas at the meter locate the shut-off valve that runs parallel with the pipe. This valve should be about 6 to 8 inches above the ground. Use the adjustable wrench to turn the valve a quarter of the way in either direction until the valve is crosswise to the pipe. Do not turn it back on yourself at any time. The gas company should be notified as quickly as possible.
- Electric: Find the main fuse block which looks like a rectangular block with a handle. It is usually located at the top of the panel. Do not turn off the main fuse first. Instead begin by turning off the smaller fuse handles one by one. Pull them down hard and straight so that they do not pull off. Be careful because some of the parts may be hot. Then turn off the main fuse last.
In order to turn the electric back on after a problem has been resolved turn the main fuse on first and then the smaller ones one by one.Homeowners should keep a list of emergency phone numbers for each utility company. After shutting off the utilities in an emergency situation be sure to call the company and let them know the situation. Have an evacuation plan for your family in case of an emergency.