Locating and being able to shut off utilities that are damaged in the event of an earthquake is important for the safety of your family. Find where to shut off your gas, water and electricity.
Gas Meter – only shut off if you smell leaking natural gas
Natural gas leaks and explosions are responsible for a significant number of fires following disasters. It is vital that all household members know how to shut off natural gas.
If it is not clear to you how to shut off your gas at the meter, it is important to contact PG&E for guidance.
Share the information with everyone in your household. Be sure not to actually turn off the gas when practicing the proper gas shut-off procedure.
If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and get everyone out quickly. Turn off the gas, using the outside main valve if you can, and call PG&E from a neighbor’s home.
CAUTION – If you turn off the gas for any reason, a qualified professional must turn it back on. NEVER attempt to turn the gas back on yourself.
Water – preserve water and pressure …
Cracked lines may pollute the water supply to your house. It is wise to shut off your water until you hear from authorities that it is safe for drinking.
The effects of gravity may drain the water in your hot water heater and toilet tanks unless you trap it in your house by shutting off the main house valve.
It may be a round handle (illustrated) or a lever. Usually, this can be found at the base of a hose spigot generally in line with your water meter. Find it and put a big bright colored tag to identify it. It may be behind a bush so a challenge to find.
You can also get a tool to turn off the water at the meter – but often that valve is very difficult to operate.
Electrical panel …
There are two (or more) electrical panels in your home – one directly attached below your meter and more inside your home. It is good to locate all of them …
Inside panels will reset circuit breakers in the event there is an overload from an appliance or other issue in your home.
If you smell gas … it will be important to shut the main panel down. The main breakers are labeled on/off and are in the main panel (outside). Don’t practice, resetting all the clocks is a pain .. but you should know where the panel is in the event of an emergency.
I pay a lot of attention to emergency preparedness and will pass along tips on a regular basis. If you live in the San Ramon Valley check out FireDepartment.org and the CERT community emergency response team program (or similar CERT program in your neighborhood)… Be a resource in an emergency rather than a victim.