Know How to “Shut Off” Disaster
January 6, 2012
Natural disasters are lurking behind every corner – and they’re just waiting to catch you by surprise. By observing a few simple emergency shut-off procedures, you can help protect you and your family during a natural disaster.
One would hope we’re beyond Colorado’s tornado season, but the freezing snowstorms of winter will quickly be upon us. When Mother Nature makes her wrath known, you need to be prepared. What do you need to know? What should you do? First and foremost, Applewood Plumbing Heating & Electric (www.ApplewoodFixIt.com) recommends you know how, when and why to turn off your main water and power supplies.
Maybe you don’t have a natural disaster to deal with, but there’s a very real possibility you could have a downed power line or a broken sewer line to your home. Those two disasters, while not the scope of Mother Nature’s full capacity, can still have devastating effects on your home and safety. Simply knowing how to shut off the water or power can save you thousands in home service repairs.
Don’t wait until you have a home emergency to try and find your shut-off valves.
Water Shut-Off Procedures
We suggest you conduct a visual inspection for leaks in your various plumbing systems, especially as temperatures drop. Also, check your water supply lines by turning water faucets on and off. If the cold water stops running, runs very slowly after a few seconds, or is dirty, you most likely have a leak.
Unfortunately, the leak is obvious, such as a sewer main break or broken pipe from freezing temperatures.
In that event, you’ll want to shut off your main water supply. There are two basic means:
- Turn off the water where it enters the house…in many homes, there’s a valve just below your main outdoor faucet;
- Or, you can shut down your water supply by turning the valve attached to your water meter.
Water valves either have round or lever-type handles. With a lever, you only have to make a one-quarter turn to shut off your water. Round handles are typically harder to turn, so you may have to give it a few tries. To turn off your water, turn the handle clockwise. And if you don’t have a main water shut off, you should have one installed.
Power Shut-Off Procedures
As was the case in the microburst that ran through the area a couple summers ago, several homes lost power. In the immediate aftermath of a major disaster, do not turn lights on or off or use matches if you have gas heat! Many home fires are ignited in the aftermath of storms like these. Instead, use flashlights to check for gas leaks to prevent an explosion or fire. If you do hear or smell a leak, shut off your gas valve and immediately open your doors and windows to vent the accumulated gas. Most importantly, get out of the house. You do not want to be near a gas leak. Leave it to professionals to fix the problem. Know where your breaker box is located. Some are located in the basement, others on the outside of the home. In either case, you should have your breakers marked, especially the “main” breaker. Some older homes have fuses. Again, the main fuse should be marked for easy removal. On breaker boxes, turn off the small breakers first, then the “main” breaker. Never remove the metal cover as this is added protection from sparks, shorts, etc.
On every service call, Applewood will provide visible orange Valve tags to identify your shut-off valves. This simple act can save time and chaos in the middle of a disaster, not matter how big or small it is. Speed and efficiency are key in getting sources to water or power shut off in an emergency. After an emergency it is best to have professionals return your home to