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A mother shows her daughter how to turn off utilities

Safety Skills

Learn First Aid and CPR 

Take a first aid and CPR class. You can get more information about training from your local American Red Cross chapter. Getting certified protects you under Good Samaritan laws if you have to give first aid.

Get more information about the supplies in a first aid kit.

Learn to Use a Fire Extinguisher

Have at least one up-to-date fire extinguisher and let everyone in your household know where it's kept and how to use it. You should have an ABC type at minimum.

The U.S. Fire Administration says you should only use a fire extinguisher if you've been trained in its proper use and maintenance. Contact your local fire department for information on training in your area. Get more information about preparedness for a fire emergency.

Know How to Shut Off Utilities

Natural Gas

Natural gas leaks and explosions cause a significant number of fires after disasters. It's important that all household members know how to shut off natural gas.

There are different gas shut-off procedures for different gas meter configurations, so it's important to call your gas company. They can help you prepare for gas appliances and gas service to your home in the event of an emergency.

Make sure everyone in your household knows the proper shut-off procedure for your meter. Do not actually turn off the gas when practicing shutting it off.

  • 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 the gas company from a neighbor’s home.
  • Caution: If you turn off the gas for any reason, only a qualified professional can turn it back on. NEVER attempt to turn the gas back on yourself.


Water quickly becomes a precious resource following many disasters. It is important that everyone in your household learn how to shut off the main water valve to the house.  

  • Find the shut-off valve for the main water line that enters your house and tag it for easy identification. Make sure everyone in your household knows where it is.
  • Make you can shut the valve off completely. Your valve may be rusted open or it may not close all the way. If so replace it.
  • Cracked lines may pollute the water supply to your house. It's a good idea to shut off your water until authorities say it's safe to drink.

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. (This is not the street valve in the cement box at the curb – the street valve is extremely difficult to turn and requires a special tool.)


Electrical sparks can ignite natural gas if it is leaking. Teach all responsible household members how to shut off the electricity.

  • Locate you electrical circuit box. For your safety, always shut off all the individual circuits before shutting off the main circuit.

Associated Content

Last Updated: 02/19/2021

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