Utilities shut off – Do you know what to do?

Recently I came across a video that demonstrated how to shut off the water at the street using a street key.  It reminded me that I should have that capability.  What about other utilities?

  • Water – We have city water which has the meter inside and two ball-type shut-off valves. Every six months, I take my family down to the basement and let them turn off/on the water to the house (they are not mechanically inclined).  As far as the shutoff at the street, the city will be marking where the street shutoff is and I will be purchasing a street key to allow me to shut the water off at the curb if a disaster struck.  I’ll probably also get a silcock key that I could use to get water at a business in an emergency.
  • Gas – I know they make specific tools for gas shutoff, but what cheaper alternatives would you suggest?  I suppose I could use an old crescent wrench, but interested in other ideas.
  • Electricity – I have a 4-pole breaker to shut off the power to the house.  From the outside, I suppose I could pull the meter head.

I also have labels for all of the shutoff valves throughout the house (mostly in the basement).

Do you know how to shut your utilities off?  Do others in your household know?


  • Comments (5)

    • 2

      Good afternoon Bigwig,

      In reply: Yes, both of us know how to shut off the valves.

      Some areas of Virginia don’t want private citizens to turn off gas.  Rationale is that on return there are too few techies allowed to turn back on. Apparently these counties have people consuming only hot cooked food. Emergencies are secondary.

      Whatever tool you get do factor in that it might have to be carried by you, infantry mode.

    • 2

      I know where the shutoffs are for my house, but haven’t ever triggered them. Maybe they are stiff or even frozen stuck from never being used. Hadn’t thought of that before. I don’t even think that my family knows where or how to shut things down as well. 

      Thank you for the reminder, I will be taking everyone on a little tour of our house this afternoon and making sure everyone can shut off all our utilities.

    • 3

      For nine dollars, it is worth it to get a dedicated gas shut off wrench like this one.


      I like your thinking of using an old crescent wrench, which will work, but let me pop some holes in that idea.

      First off, if you have the crescent wrench in your garage, you have to run all the way to the garage, get it, then go to the gas shut off. And what if your garage wasn’t accessible because of a fire or collapse of that part of the house by an earthquake? So you always want to leave your tool out by the meter.

      Second, the crescent wrench has more intricate parts and points of failure than the one I linked to above. If exposed to the elements and stored out by the meter, it will rust and be useless. The one above looks to have a good coating to prevent rust.

      Last, is that I can see myself stealing the gas meter crescent wrench from the meter if I needed an extra one and forget to put it back. 

      So get the above wrench for the $9 and a strong magnet that you can use to secure the wrench to the side of the meter. You may be tempted to use tape or zip ties, but then you have to mess around with cutting them off.  

    • 2

      Great reminder BigWig! As a child we had a number of burst pipes and shutting off the water was something I learned by osmosis!  As part of my preps I’ve reviewed what all the valves and switches do, and this winter will I will be labelling them all. 

      I use bottled gas for cooking and tried to switch the line onto the new bottle one day when my husband was away.  I could not get it disconnected no matter how hard I tried.  When hubby got back I explained it was stiff and he told me ‘flammable gases thread in the other direction’ something I didn’t know but he’d assumed I did! I’m glad I had learnt this, if I’d just waited for him to switch it over I still wouldn’t know how to disconnect the gas.

    • 2


      Good morning,

      Above has picture of an “On Duty, 4 in 1 emergency tool” used for utilities.

      Worth taking a glance at.