When emergencies occur, you will have limited time to do last-minute action to save the most of your home. Part of those emergency procedures include shutting off your main valves. While it is important to evacuate immediately, it is also essential to shut off basic utilities. All homes are equipped with shut-off valves for gas, water and electricity. Shutting these down during emergencies can help prevent more dangerous outcomes and damages to your home. It’s important to know where they are located before emergencies can occur.
The following are the three major shut-off valves you need to know:
The water shut-off valve is a knob that allows you to completely turn off the water supply in your entire home. These are commonly located in basements and beside hot water heaters, but can either be inside or outside the home.
During disasters, water can become a vital resource. If possible, stock up or store as much water as possible before calamities such as storms hit. It’s important to shut off the main water valve during emergencies because damaged and burst pipes can result in major water damage, as well as pollute your house’s water supply. Be sure to completely turn off this valve; sometimes, valves can become rusted, and it will be difficult to determine if you have closed it completely or not. Before an emergency or calamity can occur, check your main water valve to see if it needs to be replaced.
In the event of plumbing problems, it also helps to turn off your water valves to help you save hundreds of dollars in repairs.
Tip: Label the valve with a brightly-colored strip of reflective sticker. This can help you easily spot the valve even in the dark.
If you do not shut off your electricity during disasters, you risk causing fires and explosions, especially if there is a gas leak. Electrical sparks may ignite natural gas from the leakage. You should also turn off your electricity if there is a risk of flooding.
To shut off your electricity supply, find the main electrical panel. Shut off EACH circuit breaker first before turning off the main circuit breaker.
Tip: Unplug all of your devices even if you’ve turned off the main breaker.
Gas leaks and explosions are common occurrences during natural disasters and calamities. Although it isn’t required to shut off the natural gas because pipes are buried in the ground, it always pays to take extra precautions.
Gas meters can come in different locations: under-the-house meter, cabinet meter, multiple meter, and underground meter. Because each gas valve has specific configurations, it’s important to contact your gas company to get a detailed instruction of emergency precautions.
Tip: Place a diagram of the emergency shut-off procedure for the gas valve right beside the meter. Also, keep an adjustable pipe or wrench nearby, because gas valves cannot be turned off without either.
Remember, when emergencies or disasters, it is important to remain calm and get out of the dangerous location as fast as possible.