How to Prepare for an Emergency

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Err on the Side of Caution

While natural disasters such as Superstorm Sandy don¿t come along regularly, you can face a real emergency in everyday situations.

How can we prepare ourselves to make sure we are ready when an emergency strikes?

Be Ready for Electricity Cuts

Power failures can be devastating. Firstly, make sure you have torches and batteries handy for when the power fails. Back up your important computer files on a regular basis. If you have a laptop computer, make sure it can operate from your car cigarette lighter socket.

If you rely on electricity for essential medical equipment, make sure your power supply company is aware of this. They can prioritise you when power is about to be restored.

Take Care with Gas

Many of us use gas appliances at home and these are normally safe and reliable. But a gas leak can have dramatic consequences. Check all your gas pipes on a regular basis for cracks or loose connections. Label any gas pipes which run through concealed areas so they can be readily identified. Make sure you know where the main gas tap is located and if you hear a hissing sound, or smell that distinctive rotten egg odour of gas, don¿t hesitate, get out of the house fast.

Avoid Frozen Pipes

Cold winters can mean frozen water pipes. This can be inconvenient, but the real damage occurs when the thaw comes and the frozen pipes start to leak. Be prepared by wrapping at-risk pipes with heat tape or cable, or installing low temperature heaters in vulnerable areas such as the garage.

Another method of combating frozen pipes is to allow a trickle of water to flow through the pipes regularly and to open the under-sink cabinet doors to allow heat to circulate.

Fight Fire Early

A small fire in the home can quickly escalate into a full scale emergency. Install smoke alarms and make sure you test them at regular intervals, preferably each month, and have spare batteries on hand.

Have multipurpose fire extinguishers that can cope with flammable liquids as well as electrical fires. Keep them handy in high risk areas, such as the kitchen, garage and basement. Check your extinguishers regularly and have them serviced, recharged or replaced and ensure you know how to use them.

Have Emergency Exit Routes

If you have to evacuate your house, prepare yourself by drawing a map of your house with at least two escape routes drawn for each room. Install good quality escape ladders if you have a two-storey home and make sure every family member is aware of an agreed outdoor meeting place. Ensure your home has clearly visible street numbers on it so that emergency services can find you quickly.

We all hope emergencies won¿t happen to us, but following this short guide will help us all to be prepared. Good luck!

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