Utility Safety Skills for Homeowners


In the wake of the deadly gas explosions in Massachusetts last week, we set out to get a better understanding of what to look for when it comes to gas and other utilities.

In some states, gas meters can be turned off by the homeowner in an emergency, but North Dakota is not one of those states.

The only time you’ll ever need to touch your gas meter is in the winter once it starts snowing. A gas meter needs air to work properly, so make sure there’s never a build up of ice or snow.

If you do smell a gas leak, which utility companies make to smell like rotten eggs or sulfur, leave immediately. 

Spokesman for Montana Dakota Utilities Mark Hanson says, “Don’t turn on or off any light switches or do anything within the house, just leave.”

You do have control over your electricity through your breaker box.

Hanson explains, “I shouldn’t say always, but generally it’s inside the house in a basement. It can be located in a garage as well.”

It’s not often you have to turn off the power, but if your home is flooded, it’s a good idea to flip the main breaker switch, cutting power to the entire home.

Speaking of flooding, it’s also important to know how to turn off your water if you have a leak.

Lead Customer Service Representative for Bismarck Public Works Jack Getz says, “Go into your utility room, the most common area where you’ll find your water meter and that’s going to be connected to your water supply line.”

There are two valves, one on either side: a gate valve, a ball valve or a city-issued valve, which requires a pair of pliers.

All three will cut your water supply, but the ball valve is the simplest because it’s a quick quarter turn.

Getz adds, “If you don’t exercise your gate valves, you’ll find it hard to turn, and that’s where some corrosion can happen.”

To avoid breaking it, you’ll want to turn it a little, then back off, and keep going until it’s shut. And in general, it’s a good idea to turn off your water if you’re going to be out of town.

The best thing you can do in any emergency situation is call for help.

When it comes to water, call a plumber right away or your local public works department. And most importantly, when you smell gas, call 911 or MDU Resources at (800) 638-3278.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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