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20 Days to Ready: Learn How to Turn it Off (Day 4)

20 Days to Ready is a series of simple, daily tasks to help you better prepare for emergencies and protect your family when disaster strikes. Follow along, day by day, and you’ll be more ready (for just about anything) in a few short weeks.

ASSIGNMENT: Locate Your Utility Shutoffs

When you have a situation so serious that your gas, water or power needs to be shut off, it typically needs to be addressed immediately. Ensuring that the whole family knows how to find and power down each utility shutoff can be a key part of dealing with these potential hazards.

Take a tour of your home today with the tips below as your guide. (Keep in mind, though, that you or your family should only take these steps if it is safe to do so.)

Locate the Electrical Circuit Box

Where To Find It: The electrical circuit box will likely be in the basement, garage or a utility area.

How To Shut It Off: For your safety, flip the switches on the individual circuits first, and then flip the main circuit breaker, says Ready.gov. With older fuse boxes, you may have to unscrew or remove the actual fuses. If you feel uncomfortable about this process, contact a qualified electrician for help.

Special Considerations: If the circuits aren’t already labeled, identifying which section of the home they power, it can be helpful to clearly label them now.

Locate the Main Water Shutoff Valve

Where To Find It: The main water shutoff valve will likely be near the water line at the point where it enters your house. Look in the basement and in your utility room; in some areas, the valve may be located on an outside wall near the utility area of your home.

How To Shut It Off: Turn the valve clockwise. Then, turn on your faucets to test whether you’ve turned off the correct valve. If the valve is rusted, or if it only partially closes, replace it, says Ready.gov.

Special Considerations: Contact a plumber or your utility provider if you have trouble locating the shutoff valve. Label it with a tag when you do identify it.

Locate the Natural Gas Meter

Where To Find It: Usually, your gas meter will be outside, on the front or side of your house.

How To Shut It Off: Contact your gas provider and get instructions and guidance. Each meter is different, requiring a different shutoff procedure. You’ll probably also need to obtain a specialty wrench.

Special Considerations: Don’t actually turn off the gas when locating your gas meter. Once you’ve turned off the natural gas, a qualified professional is the only person who can safely turn it back on; never turn the gas back on yourself, Ready.gov warns.

Click here to follow along with more “20 Days to Ready” emergency preparedness tasks.

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