Professional Home Inspections by Dick Seay

June Newsletter

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In case of emergency: things everyone in household should know

It's a great idea for every homeowner to set up a list of "things everybody in household should know" Your safety plan could involve maintaining a list of emergency shut-offs, information sources, and basic tools. You may need to find an expert to help locate, repair or maintain some of these valves and switches. Locating and tagging them would be helpful exercises for any homeowner.

I suggest you put a tag on each item and take a tour with all family members explaining what these items do and how to operate the controls. In addition, develop a list of emergency numbers and an escape plan.

  1. Main electrical disconnect. This will be located at the main fuse/breaker panel. Usually there is one main switch or fuse block, but on older systems there can be multiple disconnects.

  2. Water main valve. This valve turns off the all the water to your home. If the valve looks old, worn or rusty, have a plumber check it for proper operation. If you use a municipal water supply, the valve will be located on the street side of your home near the water meter.

  3. Hot water shut-off. This valve is located on the cold water inlet at the top of the water heater. It turns off the hot water supply to your home by closing the cold water supply to the water heater tank.

  4. Natural gas main. This will be located near the meter (may be inside or outside the home). Many of these valves require a wrench to operate; a quarter- turn moves the valve from on to off. When the handle is parallel to the pipe, the valve is open.

  5. Local gas valves. These should be located at each appliance; they (as well) close with a quarter turn.

  6. Furnace and air conditioning main switch. This is usually mounted on the furnace. In a modern system, it will look like a light switch. It turns off the central heating and cooling system.

  7. Emergency phone numbers. Keep a list of how to reach the fire dept., ambulance/rescue, police, Mom, Dad, relatives, workplaces, and others appropriate to you household.

  8. Fire extinguishers. Place fire extinguishers in your kitchen, garage and basement. Make sure everyone knows how to use them.

  9. Escape plan. Have a plan for how to get out of fast in case of an emergency. Establish a specific location where everyone can meet just outside the house. Practice your plan.

This is a basic list. For more detailed information, contact your local utilities, police, and fire dept. It is very important to know how to react to an emergency and to know that emergency shut-offs will work when needed.

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