5 Things You Need to Know for Home Emergencies
As a homeowner, you know how to enjoy your home and all it offers, from cooking for friends in the kitchen to long showers in your bathroom every morning. Your home is your sanctuary! But what about when something goes wrong? Do you know what needs to be done in case of an emergency or other urgent situation in your home?
Here are 5 musts that every homeowner and family member should know about right now. That way, when disaster strikes, you’re all prepared to act.
1. Locate the water main valve.
If a pipe bursts or a washing machine starts to leak, you don’t want to waste time finding this main valve. This valve can turn off all the water to your home. Most homes will have this valve in the basement on the “street side” near the water meter. It can be kind of hidden, so make a sign or paint a bright color around it, so it’s noticeable to others, and tells them which way is OFF! You can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars from water damage the sooner you shut off this main valve.
2. Operate the main electrical panel.
If your appliances suddenly stop working, do you know what happened and what needs to be done? You’ve probably tripped your circuit breaker by overloading it with too much use (usually appliances, even a hair dryer or iron) at once. That’s why you need to know where your home’s central breaker panel is located to turn the power back on.
The panel should have each individual breaker labeled for each room or appliance so you can easily find the correct one. Learn how to turn off and turn on circuit breakers for when you’ve tripped one or need to turn off electricity for a certain appliance. Remember to always contact a professional for any electrical work that you are unsure about!
3. Know how to use fire extinguishers.
Imagine this scenario — your flaming dessert sets ablaze your kitchen curtains instead of the Bananas Foster! You quickly locate the nearest fire extinguisher but are too flustered to figure out how to use it. That’s why you and all of your family members should be familiar with how to operate a home fire extinguisher. An extinguisher should be easily located in the kitchen, basement and garage of your home.
4. Have an escape plan.
No one ever thinks a fire will happen in their home, but you want to play it safe and have a solid plan if one does happen. If you live in a high-rise condo unit, know where the emergency exits are located on your floor and any other vital information the association recommends. For a house, make sure everyone knows the quickest and safest way out. Practice this plan with the entire family and pick a specific spot where you can meet outside.
5. Locate the emergency toolbox and contact phone numbers. Most of the DC region has been hit with power outages during a snowstorm at some point over the years. That’s why it’s important to have a “toolbox” in a certain location that all family members can access. Fill it with flashlights, batteries, water, dry goods, and other necessary items. Know how to use a gasoline generator before a storm strikes, and that goes with any natural gas heating device too.
Also, have a handy list printed for family so that they can easily contact the fire department, ambulance, police, plumber, electrician, and power company for an emergency situation.
These are the top 5 things every homeowner and family member should know about. There are other house systems that you should get familiar with such as natural gas valves, water heater shutoff, and air conditioning and furnace main switches. We highly recommend learning more about your home, and you can find online resources or YouTube videos specifically about these systems.