Dealing with home emergencies

Nobody wants to experience an emergency or critical situation in the home, but when it does happen, taking the necessary steps in a calm and collected manner are crucial.

The majority of people will have some sort of buildings and contents cover to protect the bricks and mortar of a property as well as valuable possessions. But cover for accidental damage, boiler and central heating breakdowns along with emergency protection have become more and more popular in recent years.

Not only can these policies save a lot of time, effort and money, they also provide great peace of mind. So if you find yourself in a grave situation that requires immediate attention, here is some handy advice.

Gas leak

If you smell gas and suspect a leak or your carbon monoxide detector has gone off, then you must call the National Gas Emergency Service immediately on 0800 111 999. It is also advisable to notify your gas supplier.

For external faults, the National Gas Emergency Service will rectify the problem free of charge. However, if the leak is within your home, they can only spend 30 minutes attempting to rectify the issue. After this, they may have to shut off your gas supply and you will be responsible for the leak.

To keep safe, do not use electrical appliances or anything that creates a spark, turn off the gas supply, open all doors and windows then vacate the property.


When it comes to protection against fire, prevention and preparation are vital.

  • Smoke alarms. Have smoke alarms installed high on the wall near bedrooms and the kitchen. Test these once a month, change batteries once a year and replace the alarm itself every 10 years.
  • Smoking. Ensure cigarette lighters and matches cannot be accessed by children. Fully extinguish cigarette butts and matches. Never leave a lit cigarette unattended and do not smoke while drowsy, medicated, in bed or near a flammable object.
  • Flammable items. Store flammable liquids in a well ventilated area outside. Discard any materials that were used with flammable liquids. Be aware that old newspapers and magazines can build up and be a potential risk.
  • Electrics. Keep all appliances and sockets well maintained, as exposed wires can be dangerous. Do not overload extension cords or plug sockets. Place electric heaters away from flammable materials. Have any faults or issues fixed by a qualified electrician.

In the event of a fire, remember the following:

  • Come up with a pre-determined escape route that is never obstructed.
  • Drain the water system by turning on all your cold taps.
  • Stay low. This will maximise your chances of safety because smoke rises.
  • Windows that have been painted shut or feature extra security are a potential hazard, so make sure these can be opened.
  • In the event of a small fire, you can attempt to put it out with a household A-B-C-type fire extinguisher or a fire blanket.


Again, preparation is important, especially if your geographical location is prone to flooding. It is a good idea to prepare an emergency kit with a torch, bottled water, medication, first aid kit, radio, wellington boots, cleaning products, towels and a mobile phone if possible. If you have any important documents or valuable possessions, seal them in a plastic bag and place in a high position.

When it comes to cleaning up, remember the following:

  • Remove mud deposits from the walls and floor.
  • Clean surfaces thoroughly with disinfectant and soap.
  • Allow all areas to thoroughly dry out.
  • Do not use electricity until the authorities give the go ahead.
  • Dispose of all food and avoid the water supply, as this could be contaminated.
  • Wash your hands regularly.

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