Resident Feature

Emergency Preparedness

Safety Skills

Emergencies can happen anywhere and at any time. Being prepared with “go” bags, shelter in place supplies and plans to communicate with friends and family are all important. In addition to all of the tips provided over the last few months, there are a few safety skills that are beneficial to help protect people and property. 

Learn First Aid and CPR 

Taking First Aid and CPR classes are useful in the event of an emergency when first responders may not be able to get to you. With the skills learned in these classes you may be able to stabilize someone prior to a medical professional arriving on the scene or while driving to the hospital. You can get more information about training and certification from your local American Red Cross chapter. Getting certified can protect you under Good Samaritan laws if you give first aid in accordance with your training.

Learn to Use a Fire Extinguisher

Have at least one up-to-date ABC-type fire extinguisher and let everyone in your household know where it’s kept and how to use it. Ideally, you should have one in your garage, kitchen and near any fireplaces. Fire extinguishers can be purchased at any local hardware store. 

It is important to note The U.S. Fire Administration states you should only use a fire extinguisher if you’ve been trained in its proper use and maintenance. Contact the Contra Costa Fire Protection District for information on training. 

Know How to Shut Off Utilities

Natural Gas

Natural gas leaks and explosions cause a significant number of fires after disasters. It’s important that all household members know how to shut off natural gas.

There are different gas shut-off procedures for different gas meter configurations, so it’s important to follow PG&E’s guidelines. PG&E can help you prepare for gas appliance and service shut-off to your home in the event of an emergency. Search online for PG&E instructions for turning off your gas.

Make sure everyone in your household knows the proper shut-off procedure for your meter. Do not actually turn off the gas when practicing shutting it off.

If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and get everyone out quickly. Turn off the gas using the outside main valve if you can and call PG&E from a neighbor’s home. Never use your cell phone, turn lights or off or light a flame as this could cause an explosion. 

• Caution: If you turn off the gas for any reason, only a qualified professional can turn it back on. NEVER attempt to turn the gas back on yourself. PG&E offers a free turn on service. Simply give them a call. 

• If you cannot turn the gas shutoff valve by the meter contact PG&E to replace the valve for free. 


Water quickly becomes a precious resource following many disasters. It is important that everyone in your household learn how to shut off the main water valve to the house. 

Find the shut-off valve for the main water line that enters your house and tag it for easy identification. Make sure everyone in your household knows where it is. 

Make sure you can shut the valve off completely. Your valve may be rusted open or it may not close all the way. If so, replace it. 

Cracked lines may pollute the water supply to your house. It’s a good idea to shut off your water until authorities say it’s safe to drink. 

The effects of gravity may drain the water in your hot water heater and toilet tanks unless you trap it in your house by shutting off the main house valve. (This is not the street valve in the cement box at the curb – the street valve is extremely difficult to turn and requires a special tool.) 


Electrical sparks can ignite natural gas if it is leaking. Teach all responsible household members how to shut off the electricity. 

Locate your electrical circuit box(es) which may be located inside and/or outside. For your safety, always shut off all the individual circuits before shutting off the main circuit. 

Contact PG&E if you have any questions regarding shutting off your electricity. 

For more information, please visit 

Stay Safe Out There. 

Your Northgate Area CERT Team 

If you are interested in learning more about CERT and/or how to become a volunteer, please visit our website at www.walnut-creek. org/cert

By Nancy Caponigro, Resident since 2016, Northgate Area CERT Team