We know that whatever can go wrong, will. But what goes wrong in our homes need not be disastrouis if we are prepared.
Whether it’s a broken water line or a rusted-out drain, a burst pipe can cause a lot of trouble in a short period of time. If water is gushing, close the valve closest to the link first, then shut off the main water valve into the house. Once you’ve turned off the main water supply, reopen the smaller valve and slowly drain any remaining water into buckets.
During a power outage, the safest course is to disconnect all appliances and electronics. That way, you’ll avoid damage from power surges when the power comes back on. Take great care using candles for illumination, exercising proper fire safety, and be sure to stock up on batteries and flashlights.
If your carbon monoxide detector sounds or you simply detect a gas odor, evacuate the house immediately. Once you’ve relocated to a safe location, call the gas company’s 24-hour help line and ask them to send a technician to check your home for leaks.
Before you charge into a flooded basement to rescue your belongings, be safe. Turn off the circuit breaker to the house (or, if you can’t reach the circuit box, call your utility and ask them to do it for you). Wear thick waterproof boots and gloves to protect against toxic elements in the floodwater.
For patching a storm-damaged roof, tarps nailed down with wood strips are the quickest and easiest fix. Just be sure to let any weather pass and take all precautions before climbing up – or even better, call a professional to do it for you, then arrange for more permanent fix to be made as quickly as possible.
Somehow, the furnace always seems to give out on the first frigid evening of the year – and Murphy’s law states it will happen on a Saturday night, when the repairman charges double his usual rate. Before you pick up the phone, check to see if a clogged filter or a tripped circuit breaker might be the culprit.
Getting locked out of the house is a little embarrassing, and, if you have to call a locksmith, can be mightily expensive, too. Keeping a hidden key poses security risks. So remove your extra key from inside the hide-a-key garden stone or from under the back porch door mat, and consider leaving it with a trusted friend or neighbor instead.
First, don’t panic. Keep a box of baking soda in a handy spot for dousing flare-ups in a toaster or stovetop pan. Avoid tossing water on the blaze, and don’t try to smother the flames with a dishtowel or anything that could catch fire. You may be able to use a pot lid to extinguish the flames. If it’s an oven fire, don’t open the door – close the oven and the fire should extinguish itself. Although some fire extinguishers are rated to extinguish grease fires, those handheld fire fighters can spread flames rather than extinguish them when used improperly. Educate yourself on the types of extinguishers and how to use them so you’re always ready in case of a disaster.
Obviously, a plunger is your first line of defense for a clogged commode. If you’ve cleared the clog but flushing troubles persist, open the tank and investigate. The handle may have gotten disconnected, or part of the flush mechanism may need to be replaced.