Can you shut it off?

The great advantages  of a modern home (water, electricity, & natural gas) can become great disadvantages if they're not properly managed after a disastrous event occurs. 

The word of the day is prevention, prevention, prevention!

If you suspect damage after an event, and you don't disconnect from the grid while utilities are down, you could set yourself up for an electrical fire, flood, or gas leak once utilities resume.  You need to disconnect yourself from the grid, so that you can make sure that your home is in good working order.  Once utilites are returned and your home has been determined to be in good working order, you can safely reconnect.

Several things that need to be shut off at the main source are the water, the electricity, and the gas. 

If you don't know how to shut off these utilities, you need to find that out now, not be scrambling after there's been an event.  Usually, the gas and the water shut-off valves are located just outside of the house or at the edge of the property.  (I know, that doesn't sound incredibly helpful, but it's a place to start.  You should be able to contact the gas and water companies for the exact location if you can't find it yourself.)  The electricity shut-off, for most homes, is on an exterior wall with a main switch. 

Once you have located each of these switches, you will also need to make sure that you have the correct tools to turn them off.  All the places I have lived, except for one, I have needed only a pair of long handle channel lock pliers.  (The one place that this was not true was in an apartment complex where the water and electricity shut-off switches were kept in a locked room that only the management and fire department had access to.  My understanding is that, now, they have to at least make the electric accessible to everyone so that it can be shut off in case of a fire.)

Do make sure that it is legal for you to turn off these utilities where you live.  It's crazy that there are places that it is illegal to turn off your own utilities, but it is the case — unfortunately, friends in Canada have to deal with this.  That being said, for me, if I lived in an area where it was illegal to do, and I was faced with a $500 fine if I turned them off,  I would still do it.  I could choose to lose the $500 to a fine or lose my house or some of the items in it as well as lose my $500 deductible to the insurance company. You decide this one for yourselves, but please make it an informed decision. 

After you learn how to shut off your utilities at the main, please tell and show any other adults and teens (that are old enough to be trusted) living in the house where the shut-offs are, how to do it, and where the tools are to accomplish this.  Please, also, check on your neighbors and ask if they need any help shutting of their utilities.  This kind act can open doors for you to reach out and help them in other ways, even when there is not a crisis going on. 


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One Response to

Can you shut it off?

  1. Matt says:

    Shortly after we got married, Melissa and I had a minor water emergency at the place we were renting: The solder that connected one of the outside faucets to the pipe in the wall broke and we had a gusher shooting out the side of the house. Fortunately I'd noticed where the water main was when I was mowing the lawn, so it only too me a couple minutes to get the water shut off, but it got me thinking how much worse that situation could have been if it had happened inside the house. Definitely good to know where your water and electrical shut offs are located, and too make sure ahead of time that the water valves are easy to turn!

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