The other day I was hustling indoors from 15 degree weather when I about ran into my wife heading out the garage door with a post-it note and a pen. When I found out she was going out to the gas meter (through 6 inches of snow) to take a reading and contest our gas bill because it was so high last month (turns out record low temperatures will do that), I volunteered to do it for her. After pushing back the bushes, kneeling in the snow, clearing off the frigid (now mostly dead) ivy that had grown over the meter and straining to read the ridiculously small little dials (I had to turn my head almost upside down to see them), I wondered why I had been so quick to volunteer.
One thing it reminded me of was the need to have a good gas shut-off tool handy to turn off the natural gas in case of a leak caused by some kind of disaster. In our area, that could likely be an earthquake. Read my post on the potential for earthquakes in the Central USA. If you suspect a gas leak after a natural or man-made disaster (smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise), open a window, quickly get everyone out, turn off the gas (use the outside main valve if possible), and call the utility company from a neighbor's phone. This action can avert a potentially deadly explosion.
As FEMA says, "Natural gas leaks and explosions are responsible for a significant number of fires following disasters. It is vital that all household members know how to shut off natural gas."
WARNING: Once the natural gas is turned off, it must be turned on again by a professional.
I you aren't sure how to safely shut off the gas, contact your utility company. Here is a site that will show you the basics of shutting of the gas.
Assuming you know how to turn off the gas in an emergency, the next most important thing is to have a specific tool handy (in a predetermined place - note: outdoors next to the meter where Joey next door can turn off the gas as a prank may not be the smartest place to store your tool). There is no way you can turn of the gas without a tool. Though many kinds of wrenches and other tools may work to shut off the gas, I have a new favorite, the POGO (Pry Off Gas Off).
One of our supplier partners from California (earthquake country where they know the value of a good gas shut-off tool) recently developed what they call the POGO (Pry Off Gas Off) combination gas shut-off and pry bar. I like it because it combines two important tools that are likely to be needed in the same emergency. The emergency that caused enough jostling of your home to break the gas line in the first place, can easily bring with it the need for a solid pry tool for dealing with debris, jammed doors, and other search and rescue functions. So the POGO (Pry Off Gas Off) is a very smart combo in a compact 15 inches (this means it will also fit in most backpacks or duffles - for your 72 hour emergency kit).
Some of the main features we find valuable are:
Stong, lightweight construction from manganese steel Integrated shut-off valve notches (two different angles for ease) for quick and easy gas shut off Durable, high visibility powder coating Well ground pry tangs for easier prying in tight seems Notch for hanging on a nail or screw to keep at-the ready for an emergency Compact and easy to handle at just 15 inches (fits in most backpacks and duffles for your emergency kit)
Stong, lightweight construction from manganese steel
Integrated shut-off valve notches (two different angles for ease) for quick and easy gas shut off
Durable, high visibility powder coating
Well ground pry tangs for easier prying in tight seems
Notch for hanging on a nail or screw to keep at-the ready for an emergency
Compact and easy to handle at just 15 inches (fits in most backpacks and duffles for your emergency kit)
If you are interested in this combination emergency tool, check your gas shut-off valve to make sure the 1 6/16 inch notches will fit your particular shut-off valve. These notches were designed to fit most gas shut-off valves.
At the end of the day, this is one of my favorite emergency tools because it has several attributes we look for in any disaster tool. It is compact, strong, lightweight, multi-functional, and versatile.
Every Life Secure
An Emergency Preparedness Blog helping to make "Every Life Secure" in any emergency or disaster... at home, work, school, or on-the-go