(BlackDoctor.org) — What’s the first thing you do if there’s a gas leak? What shouldn’t you do if there’s a power outage? Do you and your family have an emergency escape plan? Take steps to prevent and act fast should a home emergency strike – big or small.
Care for your pipes. If you’re excavating outdoors, don’t dig until you have your utility company flag where the lines are. Don’t use basement pipes to hang heavy items, and make sure the gas connections to your stovetop range and other gas appliances aren’t fraying or cracked. By law, “gas pipes leading into a concealed area should be labeled gas, but this isn’t always the case,” says Bob Kordulak, a code secretary for the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors National Association. For extra peace of mind, you could install a natural-gas detector, which detects methane and propane gas leaks (ask your local utility company for recommendations). Still, your nose is your best system of detection.
Educate the family. Make sure every family member knows the basic rule of gas safety: that anytime they smell an unmistakable rotten-egg odor or hear a hissing sound and can’t immediately identify the source, they should get out of the house.
Don’t overload the circuit. Limit the number of appliances plugged into any outlet. When you lose power in one part of the house, it’s probably because your food processor, toaster, and microwave are sharing the same outlet.
Back up files regularly. And consider buying extra batteries and a DC-to-AC auto adapter if you use a laptop computer. This will allow most laptops (12 volts or less) to be operated from the cigarette lighter of a vehicle.
Stash flashlights. Store one in each bedroom. And avoid lighting candles, if possible, as they could cause a fire.
Alert your power company about special needs. If somebody in your home relies on electrical medical equipment, call your power company now to let it know. Your home will be a priority when electricity is being restored.
Remove garden hoses from their spigots. Cut off the water supply to outdoor faucets before the frosty weather arrives. Leave the faucets turned on so the pipes are drained before winter.
Insulate vulnerable pipes. Using heat tape or heat cable (sold in hardware stores), wrap uninsulated water supply lines anywhere heat doesn’t reach, such as the garage, crawl spaces, or under cabinets.
Allow water to trickle through pipes. Even during freezing spells, regularly let a little water?cold or hot?to run through the pipes. Set the thermostat at 65 degrees, and open the cabinets under sinks to expose them to as much heat as possible. If you’re leaving for an extended period during the winter, turn off the main water supply, set the thermostat at no lower than 55 degrees, and keep the cabinets open.