Welcome Home

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Emergency Shut offs-What every family should know

A basic safety plan can protect your home and family and is simple to set up. What is probably most important is to ensure that each and every member of your family is also familiar with the plan and are trained on how to operate the controls.
Your plan should include such things as locating and tagging emergency shut off’s, maintaining a list of emergency phone numbers, a fire evacuation plan and a schedule for maintaining smoke detectors and Carbon Monoxide monitors.

  • Safety first
    If you are unsure about any of the following procedures, ask an expert for help and advice. Do not touch any electrical panel when water is present around the panel or the basement is flooded.
  • Emergency Phone Numbers
    Maintain a list of emergency phone numbers and post it in a convenient location.
    Police, Fire, Ambulance, Doctors, Utility companies, Plumber, Electrician, etc. Don’t forget your own work numbers and cell numbers.
  • Evacuation Plan
    Prepare an emergency evacuation plan in case of fire, CO alarm etc. Make sure children know what to do and have a planned meeting place outside the home. Practice! Seek advice from the local fire department for additional information.
  • Main electrical disconnect
    In newer homes this will usually be located on the main electric distribution panel in the garage or basement. The main breaker usually is marked 100, 125 or 200 amp and turns off all power to the home. It is operated just like a light switch.
    In older homes there may be one main switch or fuse block which must be pulled out to turn off power. The fuse block should be held by the handle and pulled sharply outwards. Once the fuse block is pulled do not touch anything inside the panel.
  • Main water valve
    If you have a city water supply, the valve will be located in the basement near the water meter. This valve will be on the incoming pipe just before the meter. Typically there are two types. One with a straight handle requires only a quarter turn to shut off. The other with a round handle requires turning the handle clockwise to close. This valve should be operated occasionally as part as routine maintenance. If it is old, worn or rusty it may require replacement.
    If you home is supplied from a well then the shut off valve will be located on the outlet side of the pressure tank. Electrical power to the pump should also be shut off to stop pump operation.
  • Natural gas Main
    The gas meter outside your home has a built in valve on the piping. This valve requires a wrench to operate. Turning the valve one quarter turn stops gas flow to the home. When the handle is in line with the pipe the valve is open.
  • Appliance gas Valves
    Each gas appliance in the home will also have its own valve shutting down gas flow to each appliance. Locate these valves and tag them. They also close with a quarter turn.
  • Furnace switch
    Typically power is fed to the furnace controls through a light switch located on or close to the furnace. Locate and tag this switch. Turning this switch off turns off the power to the heating system components.
  • A/C disconnect
    This 240 volt switch is located next to the condenser portion of the A/C on the outside of the home. Turning off this switch shuts off power to the A/C.
  • Smoke Detectors and CO Monitors.
    Test detectors monthly. Set a schedule for replacing batteries if they are required. Make sure children know what the alarms sound like and know what to do if they go off.
  • Fire Extinguishers
    Install fire extinguishers where they can be easily accessed. Important areas would be kitchen, garage and basement. Check the pressure regularly and make sure everyone knows how to use them.

    Review your plan and revise it periodically as required. Make sure your children understand the procedure and who to call in case of emergency.
    For more detailed information, contact your local Police, Fire or Utilities Company.