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Prepare in a Year - Utility Safety

During a disaster, it is important to protect your utilities, as well as protect yourself from the possible negative outcome of utility failure.

Propane Systems

Have your home’s propane tank properly installed by a qualified professional and serviced on a regular basis.

If you have questions or safety concerns, ALWAYS contact your propane company!

Fire Safety

Be aware of droughts, fire weather watches and warnings such as burn bans. Keeping the area around your tank free of debris and anything flammable goes a long way. A good rule of thumb is to keep a clear 10′ radius around tanks:

  • Cut grass / weeds around the tank exposing bare ground

  • Spread base material or gravel around to prevent growth

There are several things you can do if you anticipate severe weather:

  • Have your propane tank filled when rainy weather is on the way. The tank will not float if the water level is below the propane level.

  • Know how and where to shut off propane supply and appliances. For more information, contact your propane supplier.

Floods & High Waters

Severe flooding can result in damage to your propane equipment. Also, water and debris can find their way inside the regulators and controls, which cause potential safety issues. Securing the tank can help prevent a bad situation from becoming worse:

  • Ensure the tank is not in a location prone to flooding and high water such as dry creek beds

  • Secure the tank with anchoring cables on a solid foundation, if needed

  • In the event of flooding, turn off the gas tank’s valve before leaving the home.

Propane Tanks (Portable)

Do not store tanks in a building, garage, or enclosure.

  • When not connected for use, keep tank valve turned off.

  • Always store tanks upright. Propane tanks are extremely flammable.

  • When transporting your tank, put it in a secure well-ventilated location in your vehicle. Tank should be upright with valve turned off. Tank should be taken directly to and from place of use. Do not leave unattended in any vehicle.

  • Do not use portable propane heaters, stoves, or lanterns in tents, campers, truck caps, RVs, or other unventilated enclosures, especially while sleeping.

  • Never store a spare tank beneath a grill.

  • Never store a tank in temperatures of 125° F degrees or more.

  • Never use or store a propane tank indoors.

  • Do not try to repair a damaged tank or tank valve.


Electrical sparks may ignite a number of things following a natural disaster. This is why, in an emergency, the electricity will likely need to be shut off immediately. If your home has a basement, the electrical circuit box is generally located there, but that's not always the case. Be sure that everyone in your home knows where the circuit box is, well in advance of an emergency.

If you need help identifying the circuit box, or just feel uncomfortable about the process, contact a qualified electrician for help. Typically, to turn off the electricity, you simply flip the "main" circuit breaker located inside the electrical panel (usually at the top), says FEMA.

Knowing how to locate and turn off the utilities in your home well in advance of an emergency is a good step toward disaster preparedness. (You should also have a plan on how to get by without utility service.) And while these tips can't do anything to prevent natural disasters or emergencies, they may help prevent them from getting worse.

Preparing to Shut Off Electricity

  • Locate your electricity circuit box

  • Check your electrical panel to make sure the breakers and fuses are properly rated for the circuit that they are protecting.

  • If an appliance repeatedly blows a fuse, trips a circuit breaker, or gives you an electrical shock, immediately unplug, repair, or replace it.

  • Check the cords of appliance in your home as well as the plugs and connectors. Make sure they are not frayed, cracked or damaged, placed under rugs or carpets, resting on furniture or located in high traffic areas.

  • Do not nail or staple cords to walls, floor, or any other objects.

  • Inspect all outdoor connections, appliance, and tools for frayed cords, broken plugs, and cracked or broken housings.


Water is an extremely important resource after a natural disaster, so you want it to remain clean. Cracked water lines may pollute your water supply, which is why the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends you shut off the water after a disaster until you know it's safe to drink.

The water line that enters your home will likely have an easily recognizable shut-off valve.

Locating this main shut-off valve in advance of a disaster is important. If you have trouble, contact a local plumber or your area water utility for assistance. Once you've identified the main water shut-off valve, make sure everyone in the household knows where it is, and how to turn it off.

Shutting off your water

  • Cracked lines may pollute the water supply to your house. It is wise to shut off your water until you hear from the authorities that it is safe for drinking.

  • The effects of gravity may drain the water in your hot water and toilet tanks unless you trap it in your house by shutting off the main house valve.

  • Locate the shut-off valve for the water line that enters your house.

  • Label this valve with a tag for easy identification, and make sure all household members know where it is located.




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