Turning Off Utilities Before Evacuating

By: Chief Meteorologist Chris Smith Email
By: Chief Meteorologist Chris Smith Email

We're only 8-days away from the official start of hurricane season.
We've been talking a lot this month about survival kits, gathering important documents and planning evacuation routes.
But here's something else to consider.
Turning off your utilities before you evacuate could prevent a disaster from becoming worse.
George and Lois Garcia are new to Northwest Florida and are hurricane season virgins. They're a little unsure of what to expect.

"Hurricanes have such negative things with people's lives, homes, destruction, and I don't think I could be ready for something like that", says George Garcia

What they do know is that they won't be sticking around here very long.

"...I have no intention to stay here. The minute we get the warning we are gone, but I still would like to make sure the house is secure" says Lois Garcia

Before they leave, George and Lois will want to turn off the electrical breakers for all large appliances like A/C units and water heaters. That will help keep power on after service is restored.

"The benefit is once the storm passes and we restore power to the distribution system serving the house... ...we don't want all of that load coming on at the same time. When that happens sometimes the surge can create additional outages" says Gulf Power's Cal Wilson.

Even if a storm surge does not reach your home, closing the main water valve in your front yard can prevent a disaster, says Inlet Beach Water System's George Goodwin.

"Just in case the pipes get broken or a tree falls on a house or anything. Just stop water from damaging the house. Just preventative maintenance."

All it takes is a simple crescent wrench to turn-off the water valve, turning it perpendicular to the pipe. Even though they now know what to do to prepare their home for a hurricane, the Garcias still don't plan on sticking around if a storm heads this way.

"North... Ha ha... There are a lot of highways that says hurricane and hurricane routes... We will be going north!"

It's not necessary to turn-off your home's natural gas service, but if it goes out, contact the gas company or a professional to re-connect you.

Hurricane season starts June 1st.


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