How To Turn Off Utilities

Utility box

During an emergency, it may become necessary to turn off your utilities at your home or business. Post disaster fires can be caused by damaged electrical and gas lines and appliances. Turning off the gas and electricity before a potential disaster helps to prevent damage to the structure and rescue personnel.

How to turn off the electricity

Know where your home's main electric switch is. It may be a pull handle or it may be very large circuit breakers inside the panel box. These allow you to turn off the electric supply to your entire home quickly in case of an emergency.

  • Know where your fuse box or circuit-breaker box is located.
  • Know the correct sizes of any fuses needed in your home and keep spares on hand.
  • Blown fuses must be replaced, not repaired.
  • Do not replace a fuse with one of higher amperage.
  • If a fuse blows, disconnect or turn off the appliance(s) that may have caused the problem.
  • Shut off the main electric switch before replacing a fuse.

Know how to reset a circuit breaker. After turning off or unplugging appliances on the circuit, push the switch firmly to the off position, then back on. If the overload is cleared, the electricity will come back on. If your circuit breakers trip off repeatedly, there could be a problem with the appliance(s) on that circuit. If the appliances are unplugged but the circuit breaker trips off again, call an electrician.

Turning off gas

How to turn off the gas

Knowing the location of your main shutoff valve will help you turn off the gas supply to your entire home quickly. Normally you won't need to shut off a gas meter unless there is a strong odor or sound of escaping gas or if there is major damage to the building. If your gas is turned off, there may be a considerable delay before the gas company can turn your service on, but don't turn it on yourself. Leave it off until service can be re-established safely by a gas company service person or other qualified professional. Know where your main shut-off valve is located. Keep a wrench handy to turn off the gas.

Most gas appliances have a valve that lets you turn off the gas to that appliance only. Know which of your home's appliances run on natural gas, and where their shutoff valves are located. In most cases, turning off the gas at the appliance's shutoff valve will suffice.

Many older gas appliances have a small, continuously burning gas flame - the pilot light - that ignites the main burner. Newer models have electric igniters. Know which, if any, of your appliances have a pilot light. Keep the manufacturer's relighting instructions within easy reach.

Keep a flashlight handy to investigate minor gas odors. Check pilot lights to make sure they are lit. Never use matches or candles, and never turn any electric switches on or off if you smell gas. Always wait five minutes to let gas disperse before trying to relight your appliance. If the smell or sound of escaping gas continues or if you have any doubts, open windows and doors and get everyone out of the building. Call the gas company or 911 from the nearest phone away from the gas odor.