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In an emergency – Knowing your utilities

Posted by Adrian
August 19th, 2019

In an emergency – Knowing your utilities

In an emergency it’s important to know where to find your utilities such as gas, electric and water and know how to turn them off if you need to. It is always good to be prepared and have a plan of action, just in case. Knowing where your utilities are could reduce any further problems or damage to your property.


You should know how to turn off your water supply, to do this you need to know where to find your main stop cock. This may be in the house, your garden, front path or driveway. You may also need a ‘key’ to turn it off as some stop cocks are under a cover, out of your reach, so if you need one of these make sure you know where it is.

Depending on the problem you may be able to isolate the problem locally by turning off an isolator valve, thus leaving the water on to the rest of the house. Isolator valves typically have a slotted screw on them, turn this with a screwdriver a quarter turn, handy to know where you can lay your hands on a screwdriver too. Some valves have a lever, simply turn a quarter of a turn in the direction indicated. Other valves you may have are gate valves, these have a tap looking head on them, turn clockwise to turn of the water.

Labelling which pipe is which and having isolator valves fitted is the best option, turning them off every few months will help keep them in working order and prevent limescale build up that can clog up the valve and make it hard or impossible to shut off.

Knowing your utilities


If you have an electrical problem and you need to turn off the power, do you know how to turn yours off? If you need to turn the mains power off you need to do so at the fuse box, or consumer unit as it is called. You should see some fuses and a main switch, turn the main switch off. Most commonly your fuse box will be in a downstairs cupboard or under the stairs. It’s always a good idea to keep a torch handy so you can see what you are doing and if your turning the power off at night you need to see where you are going safely.

If you know what the problem is or you just want to turn part of the power off, say the downstairs sockets because you need to work on them, you can turn that fuse off, or for older fuse boxes remove the fuse.

If you have an older style fuse box, keep some fuse wire beside the fuse box in case one blows, you should never replace fuse wire until the problem that caused it is fixed and never use a higher rated fuse wire than is intended.


At the first sign of a gas leak you should turn off the mains gas supply to the house. This maybe under the stairs, in the garage or outside in locked utility box. You should never turn on any electrical appliance or switch as a spark could cause an explosion, do not smoke or light a match or use any naked flame, such as a candle. Open windows and doors to ventilate the house then call your emergency number of the gas supplier or the National Gas Emergency service on 0800 111 999.

You should stay out of your property until the gas has disbursed, if the leak is bad enough inform you neighbours and advise them they may need to leave their property to be safe. If you have inhaled a lot of gas you may feel ill, you should seek medical advice straight away.

It is a good idea to have a list of emergency numbers so you know where they are in case of an emergency. Maybe have them on a notice or pin board or on your fridge or freezer.Knowing your utilities and how to turn them of in an emergency

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