Be smart, stay safe: Your primer to shutting off utilities in case of an emergency

Calamities and natural disasters come and go as they please – they don’t announce themselves at the door. This is why it pays to prepare for their coming; emergency planning can help you address the challenges that you may encounter when the time comes that you have to endure a crisis situation. One of the ways you can prepare for a natural disaster is by learning how to shut off utilities long before a disaster occurs, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

There are different kinds of utility systems that need to be shut off before the windows start breaking, the winds begin howling, or the waters start rising. 

  • Shutting off natural gas  Different households have varying natural gas setups, so it makes sense that different gas meter configurations are operated slightly differently from one another. What is a sure thing, though, is that you will have to get a hold of an adjustable pipe or a crescent wrench to do this task. To properly plan for the actual shut off, contact your local gas company months in advance to gain the knowledge of how to properly shut off your natural gas. If a hissing sound is audible, or you can smell what is clearly gas, it would do well to get everyone and everything you hold dear out of the house.
  • Turning off the water  Water is an important aspect of life and living, not only for us humans, but also for animals and various works of Nature, such as land forms and trees. Whenever a natural disaster strikes, it can be expected that water lines may be corrupted, especially in the cases of earthquakes, hurricanes, or landslides. As such, water lines can crack, and a cracked water line can pollute your water supply. FEMA recommends that you shut off your water lines after a disaster and only turn them back on after federal officials say that it is okay to do so. The water line that enters your house can usually be turned off by an easily recognizable shut-off valve. If you can’t find the shut-off valve, get in touch with a local plumber or your area water utility provider for assistance regarding this matter. After knowing where it is, label the water valve to avoid future confusion.
  • Shutting off the electricity  Electrical sparks may cause a disaster that may be far greater than the initial calamity. This is why, during emergency situations, it is necessary to turn off electricity, unplug electrical connections, and secure electrical outlets or sockets. The electrical circuit box is generally located in the basement. Knowing the location of the electrical circuit box should be mandatory not only for you but for all the members of your family or household. Ask your electrician for help in locating your electrical circuit box. Simply flip the main circuit breaker located inside the electrical panel, according to FEMA.

The United States has allocated over $200 million to address the recent spate of hurricanes and wildfires that have laid havoc to some parts of the nation. Knowing that these occurrences are rampant in the country, there’s no mistaking it: If you don’t know how to shut off your utilities, you should start learning how to now. (Related: Major earthquake now due for middle America…would unleash mass chaos and kill thousands.)

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