A Tip from the Laurelhurst Emergency Action Plan Team:
Large earthquakes can fell power lines, break water and gas pipes, and overwhelm emergency repair personnel. Protect your family and home by teaching all household members where to find and how to turn off your utilities. Share the location of your utility controls with cluster neighbors so they can handle this task if you are unable to do so.
If you don’t smell or hear natural gas, you probably don’t need to shut it off. Just in case, locate the shut-off valve and know how to turn off the gas. If you do turn off the gas, Puget Sound Energy (PSE) will need to relight the pilot when it is safe. PSE recommends installing an automatic earthquake shut-off valve.
Every household member also should learn how to shut off water at the main house valve. This prevents debris from pipe breaks from contaminating precious, clean water stored in hot water and toilet tanks.
Know where and how to turn off the electrical master switch in case of flooding or a live exposed electric wire in the house.
Label your shut-off valves. Hardware stores, outdoor outfitters, and Amazon sell pre-labeled tags.
Teach everyone in your household when and how to use a fire extinguisher and identify a clear a clear exit path. Know which types of fire your extinguisher is meant to combat. Remember PASS: Pull out pin. Aim at fire base from about 10 feet away. Squeeze lever. Sweep side to side until: (a) fire is out, (b) extinguisher is empty, or (c) exiting is the safest strategy.
The ability to control utilities quickly after an earthquake may dramatically contribute to your family’s and your neighborhood’s safety and survival. Know “how to” before you “have to”!