Your home is your safe haven, but do you know what to do when disaster strikes? The two most common property disasters are water or fire emergencies. First and foremost, don’t panic! Following you will find some tips to mitigate further damage when you have a property emergency.
Water is the most common cause of property emergencies and it might not even come from your own unit. A neighbor could leave a faucet running, overflow a toilet, or have a pipe burst – all of which can affect your dwelling. Let’s start by assessing what type of water you are dealing with.
- Category 1 – Clean Water. This water comes from a supply line or faucet and if dealt with within the first 24-48 hours, there is less risk of contamination. However, the risk of mold increases with time. Clean and/or mitigate the damage as soon as possible. If the damage is not too extensive and dries in a timely manner you probably won’t need further assistance.
- Category 2 – Grey Water. This water would have significant contamination and would most likely come from bathwater or a toilet (no feces) and it can cause discomfort or sickness. Seek professional help as the water has most likely affected the floors, walls, and contents.
- Category 3 – Black Water. This water is grossly contaminated and can come from flood water or sewage backup. This is the worst type of water damage and financial risks are huge. Contact a professional restoration company immediately.
If you encounter a slow or steady water leak within your unit or home, the first thing you want to do is shut off the source of the water. Do you know where your main water valve is located? If not, look today so you know when you need it! (Trust me – I know this the hard way! It’s easy to panic and try to stop the water. In my case, it was the water line to my home humidifier that was spraying all over my basement! Had I shut off the main valve right away, I would have had less of an “I Love Lucy” episode on my hands!) Mop or towel up the water right away – or if water is leaking from the ceiling, place buckets, pots, pans or plastic sheets under the leak to prevent further damage.
Anything that holds a lot of water (tub, toilet, sink) has the potential to overflow and wreak havoc. If your toilet starts to overflow, immediately reach behind it and shut off the water valve and proceed with cleanup. Determine the cause (clog, fill tube or float malfunction, etc..) and have it repaired. If a sink or tub starts to overflow – the obvious solution is to shut off the faucet – but if that doesn’t work it’s time to go to the main water valve.
If you ever encounter a lower level or basement with standing water in it – do NOT enter the area until utility companies are called and you know the electricity and gas have been shut off. Then reach out to the professionals for cleanup and repair.
A fire can start from a variety of sources: cigarettes, flammable items too close to a heat source, faulty wiring, etc. but one of the most common is a kitchen fire. These fires can be prevented with being attentive and having some knowledge on extinguishing the fire.
An inattentive cook is your biggest culprit. We start something on the stove or in the oven and get easily distracted by a child, a phone call, ring at the door, or something on TV. Concentrate on the job at hand and if you have to step away, turn off the heat source to be safe.
What if a fire does start? Your best friend is a Class B fire extinguisher that can be used for grease, gasoline, oil, solvents and oil based paints. But if you don’t have an extinguisher and face a grease fire, smother it with baking soda or a metal lid and turn off the stove. NEVER use water to put out a grease fire as it can cause it to spread. If a fire starts in the oven, leave the door closed and turn off the oven. For fires in other areas of the dwelling, if possible, confine the fire by closing – but NOT locking- the doors to help contain it. Get all occupants and pets out and call 911!
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