Household problems don’t follow a 9-to-5 schedule. Gas leaks, an overflowing toilet and a dripping roof don’t always wait until you’ve had your morning coffee.
Emergencies are an unfortunate reality of homeownership. Severe weather can arrive at any time, and many of your home systems are complicated machines that will eventually break down due to wear and tear.
While you can’t predict when emergencies arrive, you can prepare yourself by following these tips.
1. Keep in touch with contractors
Regular maintenance benefits you in more ways than one. Not only do you catch problems early and keep your system in good repair, but you’ll build relationships with reliable contractors who are familiar with your systems. That means when you call at 2 a.m. with a burst pipe or an electrical problem, the pro that answers has a head start on the fix. They are a professional who already has experience with you and your house.
2. Know what you need to do
Keeping resources at your fingertips will help keep bad situations at bay. Make sure you know your most essential contractors’ names and after-hours phone numbers. Yes, you can probably look this up on your phone fairly quickly, but you’ll save time and reduce complications during what will likely already be a chaotic situation. In some cases, a pro can talk you through potential solutions right there on the phone.
Another key tip — make sure you know how to shut off your home utilities. You can shut down electricity at your main panel. Water and gas lines usually have a master shut-off point outside or in a basement or crawlspace. If you don’t know where these valves are located, ask your pro to point them out for you. You’ll be grateful for the know-how if you need to cut off the supply during a gas or water leak.
3. Be prepared for triage
In some fields, emergency calls don’t come in on a consistent basis but rather stack up all at once. For example, after a severe storm or wind event, every roofing company in the region will be swamped with calls for emergency help. In those cases, experts say that they’ll do triage work to prevent the worst of immediate damage by removing the most urgent problem, covering up leaks, and doing their best to bring it under control. There may be cases where major repairs can’t be completed immediately. Be patient with your pros during crises; the odds are everyone’s doing their best to get problems addressed.
4. Keep your home stocked
Sometimes, severe weather means help could be days away. The Federal Emergency Management Agency suggests that you keep your home stocked with enough supplies to get you and your family through 72 hours without outside assistance. This kit should be prepared long before a crisis and stored where you can easily find it. Go to ready.gov for a complete list of necessities and tips on managing a crisis.
Also, make sure your home has at least one fire extinguisher, preferably one for each level of your home. If you have only one, put it in the kitchen, and make sure everyone knows where it is as well as how to operate it.