Whether it’s a problem in the middle of the night or you’re just looking for ways to stay prepared, there are steps you can take to prevent a small emergency from turning into a large — and costly — one. Here are our tips to help you prepare for and deal with the most common household emergencies in [area].
Getting locked out
Taking the wrong steps to get back inside when you’re locked out can make a bad situation worse. Instead of trying to get in by yourself and potentially damaging your locks, try these two tips instead.
Look for a spare.
Who has your spare key? While it may inconvenient, it’s smarter to call a friend than to break your locks. If you don’t have a spare already, consider buying a key hider for future lock-outs.
Call a professional.
Call a local [area] locksmith and wait for them to let you back inside, rather than damaging your door.
The way you handle a power outage is important to both your safety and your wallet. Before you head to the breaker panel during this household emergency, take care of these things first.
Shut the fridge.
Leaving the refrigerator door closed seals in the cold air and minimizes the chance of your food spoiling. This can prevent you from getting sick and spending money on new groceries.
Random power surges can damage or destroy anything still connected to an outlet. Avoid costly replacements by disconnecting sensitive electronics.
When the weather cools down in [area], the last thing you want is the hot water to stop flowing. Frozen pipes are at a real risk of bursting during the winter season, but being prepared can save you thousands of dollars in flood damage and more household emergencies.
Turn off the faucet.
If the water in your faucet has slowed to a trickle or even a full stop, you might have a frozen pipe getting ready to burst. Turn off the faucet to prevent further damage and call a plumbing professional.
Turn up the heat.
If the blocked pipe is behind a wall, turn up the heating in your house and wait for the ice to thaw, or use a hair dryer to heat the area manually.
When your toilet is backed up and overflowing, you’ll need a combination of quick thinking and immediate action. Avoid water damage and expensive repairs by knowing what to do for this common emergency.
Take control of the water flow.
Don’t worry about towels for now — stop the flow of water. Take the lid off of the toilet, press down on the flapper valve, lift the float to cut off water supply, and wait until the water level drops back to normal.
Take matters into your own hands.
If you’ve got a plunger nearby, it’s time to take action. Make sure there’s enough water in the bowl to cover the plunger, and keep plunging until the suspected blockage is gone.
Air conditioning or heating goes out
In the heat of summer or cold of winter, it’s important that your heating and cooling system is up and running. Have a plan to stay comfortable in extreme weather and keep your HVAC unit in good shape.
Get out of the house.
Extreme heat or cold isn’t just uncomfortable, it can be dangerous to your health. When your HVAC system breaks down, don’t lose your cool. Take the family out for a pool day or matinee, grab a bite to eat, or visit some friends.
Maintain your system.
Don’t wait until your HVAC system is on its last legs to give it some TLC. Make sure you’re replacing your air filters when they get dirty, and take note of any strange noises coming from your HVAC unit. While it may cost a bit in the short-term to replace parts as they wear down, the money you save long-term by preventing household emergencies is worth the extra time and preparation.
Get help from a professional.
If your heating and cooling system breaks, don’t try to fix it yourself — leave it to the experts. Make sure you call a local professional to get HVAC equipment up and running again. It’s also important to schedule seasonal maintenance service to make sure you’re ready for whatever weather comes your way. Additionally, here’s our home maintenance checklist for fall with tips to make sure your home is ready for the cooler weather.