When a disaster – small or large – impacts your home and family, it will always feel like a red-alarm emergency. And this can mean you feel panicked and out of control. Unfortunately, when you buy a home, it doesn’t come with an instruction manual for times like these. But home disasters can often be handled with a hefty dose of preparation. Take our quick quiz to test your preparedness – and find out what to do if you find yourself in any of the following situations.
You walk into your basement – and step into water knee-deep.
- Wade through the waters to save your family photos?
- Scream and run for high ground?
- Turn off the electricity and call a plumber to find out the culprit of the water, (if you don’t know)?
You may have the impulse to immediately dive in and get your priceless family heirlooms out of the water. But resist that urge and stay safe. (Check out what to do right now if you have water in your basement.) Electrocution and bacteria are both legitimate risks when it comes to standing water in your basement. Start by turning off electrical power immediately. (You may need to wear boots if this means you’ll be in or near the water.) Then, you’ll need to find the culprit of the water. If you aren’t experienced with this, call a plumber. It could be due to a myriad of issues – like sump pump failure, drain backup or leaks. The water and plumbing issues must be dealt with before any repair and restoration can take place.
You smell burning near an electrical outlet or cord.
- Get out your tools and start poking at the outlet until you figure it out?
- Grab your kids and get out of town?
- Unplug everything and trip the circuit breaker?
Unless you are a licensed electrician, it’s important to play it safe with electrical outlets. Start by unplugging anything in the outlet and turning off the circuit. (Make sure your circuits are labeled to make this simpler.) If this takes care of the smell, schedule an appointment with an electrician to investigate. But if the burning smell persists, leave your home and dial 911.
Your roof is leaking – in the middle of the storm.
- Climb up to give it a look?
- Ignore the issue and hope it goes away?
- Inspect the damage (after the storm has passed) and call in the experts?
Trying to patch a roof during a storm is dangerous – rain, wind and lightning all cause serious risks. Don’t ever go on the roof in the middle of a storm. (Learn more about staying safe in thunderstorms.) But once the storm has passed, you don’t want to ignore the damage. Rain and leaks can mean water damage – so time is of the essence. Calling in the experts – like Werner Restoration – means storm damage will be repaired in the right way. You also may want to reach out to your insurance company to see if the damage is covered. If you need to keep the roof waterproof until someone gets there, a tarp is a good option.
A pipe burst and is leaking water everywhere.
- Grab a few tools and hope for the best?
- Pace around the kitchen as the water rises around you?
- Turn off the water at the main valve?
When water is leaking into your home, you may be tempted to panic or freeze. But knowing how to turn off the main water valve is an important home ownership skill and is almost always your first step with a leak. While there are individual shut-off valves near faucets and toilets, closing the main shutoff valve will make sure no water enters the pipes in your home. This will be near where the water enters your house (usually in the basement or crawl space in the Quad Cities). Turn the knob clockwise to turn it off. Once the water is off, you’ll want to dry the area to prevent water damage and mold – call Werner to take care of this process the right way. (Check out all the hidden places mold can lurk.) Clean up the mess before you deal with repairing the leak to avoid more issues down the road.
Your carbon monoxide detector goes off.
- Take a good sniff and decide it’s a fluke?
- Run for the hills?
- Get fresh air and call 911?
Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless, so no amount of sniffing can detect it. Take the threat seriously and always make sure you have working CO detectors in your home. If the alarms in your home go off, immediately exit to find fresh air and call 911. Emergency responders are trained to determine whether the threat is real. If there is a leak, they’ll help find and shut off the source of the gas and ensure your home is aired out.
You start a small grease fire on top of the stove.
- Grab the spray nozzle on your kitchen faucet and start spraying?
- Pick up the pan and run outside?
- Take a deep breath, consider your options, and cover it with the lid to smother the fire quickly?
Fires can make people do crazy things. Before acting, try to think about the source of the fire to react in the best way. Never use water on grease fires and never try to move the fire elsewhere. (This will risk starting a full house fire in the process.) In this case, smothering the fire is the best option.
Other tips –
- Unplug cords, if possible, when an electrical fire is happening.
- Keep a dry chemical fire extinguisher near the kitchen for fires, but make sure to read the instructions. And remember that it can cause a huge mess that may not be necessary for small fires.
- If the fire is large or out of control, play it safe and don’t try to be a hero. Instead, exit the home and call 911.
You notice some mold in the back of a closet or in the corner of a room.
- Start spraying bleach at every surface?
- Move out of the home immediately? (You know that mold is always terrible.)
- Call in the experts?
The truth is, mold is naturally occurring and isn’t always dangerous. (Read more mold myths here.) Because it happens in moist environments, you’ll want to find the cause of the mold. Otherwise, you’ll no sooner clean up the mold before it’s growing again. Companies like Werner are specially trained in mold removal – this includes containment, treatment and repair.
The bottom line.
When you have an issue in your home – from the largest disaster to the smallest inconvenience – you may feel helpless or overwhelmed. But with a dose of preparation – and the support of an experienced partner like Werner – you can feel like you have been given the ultimate guide to home ownership. Want to be even more prepared? Create a family disaster plan and check out the lists for indoor and outdoor home maintenance.