Unexpected Utility Failures

Unexpected utility failures or incidents are common occurrences and may happen at any time. An undetected gas line leak may require only a spark to set off an explosion. Flooding from a broken water main may cause extensive damage to the property and cause power failures. An electrical failure may result in the loss of refrigerated food supplies and medicines or create a severe fire hazard.

Warning
In this context, the “unexpected” means that there will be no warning.

Preparation
Identify the possible effects that the loss of each utility may have on the facility. As an example, loss of electricity might affect the heating and cooling system.
Keep an accurate blueprint of all utility lines and pipes associated with the facility and grounds.
Develop procedures for an emergency shutdown of utilities.
Maintain a list of phone numbers, including night and day emergency reporting and repair services, or all serving utility companies.
Minimize threats of failure through the use of good maintenance practices.

Response
Gas Line Break/Leak
Evacuate the facility immediately.
Notify maintenance staff, manager, local utility companies and police and fire departments.
Shutting off the gas valves is not recommended unless the leak is minor and it can be done from outside the structure
Do not re-enter the facility until emergency officials say it is safe.
Gas service should only be turned back on by the gas company.
Electric Power Failure
Notify the electric company.
Notify the maintenance staff.
If there is danger of fire, evacuate the facility.
If an electrical short is suspected, turn off power at the main control point.
Water Main Break
Call the facility maintenance personnel.
Shut off the valve at the primary control point.

Adapted from the Day Care Facilities Emergency Planning Guide prepared by the Bureau of Plans, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and information from the FEMA website.