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Utility disruptions are an occasional inconvenience of the modern age. The ability to locate and operate utility shutoffs will increase safety and reduce property damage in a disaster situation.

Phone

If you lose phone service:

  • Use your cell phone, or borrow one from a friend or neighbor if possible, and call your provider to report the outage.
  • If you have a cordless phone, keep in mind you may lose service during a power outage. It is a good idea to have a phone that does not rely on electricity. Fire alarm boxes will continue to work.

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Water

It is always a good idea to have a supply of bottled water in the house. If you see water coming up from the ground or roadway, or suspect a water main break, call 9-1-1 to report its location. Be prepared to provide the following information on the phone:

  • A description of the condition.
  • What is being affected (street, cellar, basement, etc.)
  • The exact location of the problem.
  • Your name, address and telephone number.

Water not only causes property damage, but it can cause electrocution if electrical wires energize it. If you have no water or very low water pressure, call 9-1-1.If authorities determine that there is a concern about drinking water quality, you will be advised of what actions to take. In some cases, you may be told not to use the water for cooking or drinking purposes unless it is boiled, treated with bleach or iodine, or disinfected by other means. In an extreme case, you may be told not to use the water for cooking, drinking, hand-washing or bathing purposes.

If there is a drought, authorities will advise you to conserve water. Please restrict your water use as much as possible. If the drought worsens, mandatory drought restrictions can be imposed. Conservation measures can slow the depletion rate of the stored water and potentially postpone or eliminate the threat of serious water shortages.

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Electricity

If there is a power outage:

  • Call your power provider immediately to report the outage.
  • Disconnect or turn off all appliances that would otherwise go on automatically when service is restored. If several appliances start up at once, they may overload the electric circuits.
  • In order to prevent food spoilage, keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. Each time the door is opened, heat enters and speeds up the thawing process.
  • Stay indoors if possible. Never touch or go near downed power lines, even if you think they are safe.
  • Keep a battery-operated radio on for updates on the restoration process.
  • If you lose power and/or heat in the winter, insulate your home as much as possible.
  • Do not burn charcoal indoors and do not use your kitchen gas range to heat rooms as this can lead to fire or a hazardous smoke condition.
  • Do not use generators indoors. Without proper ventilation they can create deadly carbon monoxide.

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Natural gas

If you smell gas:

  • Do NOT smoke or light lighters or matches. If the odor is very strong, do not use your phone or operate any light switches or electrical devices – any spark could cause a fire.
  • Open windows.
  • Evacuate immediately and call 9-1-1.

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Last updated: 6/10/2008 10:42:08 PM