Emergency Maintenance Workers Restoring PowerNatural Gas

Natural gas leaks can cause an explosive and flammable atmosphere 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.

How to Shut off a Gas Line

  1. 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.
  2. To turn gas off, give the valve a quarter turn in either direction. When the lever crosses the direction of the pipe the gas is off. See the diagrams below:
    Diagram Showing How to Shut off a Gas LineDiagram Showing the Proper Orientation of the Gas Shutoff Valve
  3. Keep a crescent wrench or gas shut-off tool nearby to turn the lever.
  4. 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.

Automatic shut-off valves can be added to your gas line to automatically turn off the flow of gas during an earthquake or if excessive gas flow is detected.

Circuit Breaker BoxElectricity

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
  • You are evacuating your home due to flooding
  • Diagrams Showing What Circuit Breakers and Pull-out Cartridge Fuses Look LikeWhen instructed by emergency personnel

How to Turn off Your Electricity

  • 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.
  • Always shut off all the individual circuits before shutting off the main circuit breaker.


Water quickly becomes a precious resource following many disasters. It is vital that all household members learn how to shut off the water at the main house valve.

Cracked lines may pollute the water supply to your house by allowing contaminants into the water supply. Water leaks can cause property damage and create an electrocution hazard. It is wise to shut off your water until you hear from authorities that it is safe for drinking.

Diagram Showing How to Turn on and off a Water ValveThe 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.

How to Turn Off Your Water

The water shutoff is usually located in the garage or where the water line enters the home. The water shutoff is located on a riser pipe and is usually a red or yellow wheel. Turn wheel clockwise to shut off. Do not turn off the water at the street valve in the cement box at the curb; this valve is extremely difficult to turn and requires a special tool.