Utilities may be disrupted during a disaster. To minimize the chance of injury and property damage, it’s important that you and your loved ones know when utilities should be turned off, where to find the shut off mechanism, and how to do so safely.
Natural gas leaks can cause fires and explosions inside a building.
- If you smell gas, hear gas escaping, see a broken gas line, or if you suspect a leak, shut off the main valve and open all windows and doors.
- Never use candles or matches if you suspect a leak. Do not turn on electrical switches or appliances.
- Identify the main shutoff valve, located on the gas line coming into the main gas meter. This is usually on the exterior of your home or building, or in an external closet. Your main valve may look like this:
To turn gas off, give the valve a quarter turn in either direction. When the lever crosses the direction of the pipe (see illustration) the gas is off.
Keep a crescent wrench or gas shutoff tool nearby to turn the lever.
Never attempt to turn your gas back on. Wait for your utility company to do it. This may take several days.
Water leaks can cause property damage and create an electrocution hazard. After a major earthquake, shut off your water supply to protect the water in your house. Cracked pipes may allow contaminants into the water supply in your home. The water shutoff is usually located in the front yard, garage or where the water line enters the home. The water shutoff is located on a riser pipe and is usually a handle or wheel. Turn handle or wheel clockwise to shut off.
Electrocution can result from direct contact with live wires or anything that has been energized by these wires. Locate your main electric switch, which is normally in the garage or outdoors.
The panel box may have a flip switch or pull handle on a large circuit breaker. Shut off electricity when:
Arcing or burning occurs in electrical devices. There is a fire or significant water leak. You smell burning insulation. The area around switches or plugs is blackened and/ or hot to the touch.
A complete power loss is accompanied by the smell of burning material.
Helpful web sites: Southern California Gas Company – www.socalgas.com/stay-safe/
Southern California Edison – www.sce.com/safety