FRANKLIN COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT
Utility Considerations During an Emergency
TURNING OFF THE UTILITIES
When disaster strikes it often affects one or more of the utility
systems in our homes. Therefore, it is important to know where
the main controls are located and to know when and how to turn
them off. It is best to learn these things before disaster strikes.
Here are a few helpful pointers.
- Locate your gas meter valve and learn to turn off the gas.
The gas meter is usually found outside your residence where most
of the utilities are connected. The shut off valve is usually
found just beneath the gas meter on the plumbing coming up from
the ground into the meter.
- If you suspect the shutoff valve is not working properly,
call the utility company for an operational check.
- Ensure a wrench is immediately available for turning the meter
off in an emergency.
- If you smell natural gas, evacuate immediately. Do not use
candles, matches, lighter, open flame appliances or operate electrical
switches. Sparks could ignite gas causing an explosion.
- Shut off the gas ONLY if you smell gas or hear a hissing
noise. Let the gas company turn the gas back on.
- Seek the assistance of a plumber to repair gas pipe damage.
- Your sewer system could be damaged in a disaster such as an
earthquake, landslide or flood. Make sure the system is functioning
as designed before using it. This will prevent the contamination
of your home and possibly the drinking water supply.
- If you have one of the more modern septic systems that use
an electrical pump to force gray-water into the drain field, you
may encounter septic system problems during a power outage. If
the electrical power is off for an extended time, and you continue
to use water as you normally would, the septic tank will quickly
fill up and sewage may back-up into your home. To maintain the
integrity of your septic system during a power outage, restrict
the amount of water you put down the drain.
- Have a bucket or portable toilet available for disposing of
human waste. Plastic bags placed in the toiled bowl will also
- Locate your main electrical switch or fuse panel and learn
how to turn the electrical system power off.
- If a generator is used as a backup power supply remember to:
- Follow the manufacturer's instructions.
- Connect lights and appliances directly to the generator and
not the electrical system.
- Note: Generators connected to a utility company's electrical
system must be inspected by the utility and the state electrical
- Clearly label the water shut off valve and learn to turn off
the water supply. Shut off valves may be found immediately adjacent
to your home, near the hot water heater or at the main water meter,
usually near the street.
- Ensure valve can be fully turned off. If a special tool is
needed, make sue one is readily available.
- Shut off the main valve to prevent contamination of the water
supply in your water heater and plumbing.