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Gas shut-off valve could save your home from catching fire when an earthquake hits

When the earth shakes so do furnaces, water heaters and gas lines.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Everyone thinks they may have everything they need in case of an earthquake emergency, but there is one very important thing you may be overlooking.

It's called an earthquake activated shut-off valve.

When an earthquake happens, experts say the device could save your home from catching on fire or worse, an explosion.

That's because when the earth shakes so do furnaces, water heaters and gas lines.

A study released in February suggests the Pacific Northwest may actually be in the middle of an earthquake "break" of sorts.

Watch: Pacific Northwest in earthquake lull

But just one crack can send natural gas pouring into your home. One spark and your house could go up in flames.

The special valves will prevent gas from entering the home.

"This shuts off the gas at the meter, it is detected by the earthquake," said Michael Wieber of NW Seismic.

So how does it work?

"There's a steel ball that is seated in a pocket and with a certain amount of shaking that ball drops and it plugs the flow of gas," Wieber explained.

The shut-off valve will trigger in a magnitude 5.2 or larger quake.

 Some insurance companies offer a discount on homeowner’s insurance if one of the valves are hooked up.

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