How to Handle 5 Home Emergency Situations

As a homeowner, it’s fun to enjoy all the great things about your home—place to relax, entertain, or spend quality time with family.  

But what about when something goes wrong?  

Do you know what needs to be done in case of an emergency or other urgent situation in your home? 

Here are 5 musts that every homeowner and family member should know about right now. That way, when disaster strikes, you’re all prepared to act.

1. Locate the water main valve 

 If a pipe bursts or a washing machine starts to leak, you don’t want to waste time finding this main valve. This valve can turn off all the water to your home. For most homes in San Diego usually, the main water supply shut off is located with the city meter in a recessed meter box near the street in front of the home. Sometimes, it even has a “W” imprinted so you know it’s water. Sometimes, It can be kind of hidden, so make a sign or paint a bright color around it, so it’s noticeable to others, and tells them which way is OFF!

You can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars from water damage the sooner you shut off this main valve.

2. Operate the main electrical panel

If your appliances suddenly stop working, do you know what happened and what needs to be done? You’ve probably tripped your circuit breaker by overloading it with too much use (usually appliances, even a hair dryer or iron) at once. That’s why you need to know where your home’s central breaker panel is located to turn the power back on. 

The panel should have each individual breaker labeled for each room or appliance so you can easily find the correct one. Learn how to turn off and turn on circuit breakers for when you’ve tripped one or need to turn off electricity for a certain appliance. Remember to always contact a professional for any electrical work that you are unsure about! 

3. Know how to use fire extinguishers

Imagine this scenario — your flaming dessert sets ablaze your kitchen instead of the Bananas Foster! You quickly locate the nearest fire extinguisher but are too flustered to figure out how to use it. That’s why you and all of your family members should be familiar with how to operate a home fire extinguisher. An extinguisher should be easily located in the kitchen and garage of your home.  (And hopefully this serves as a reminder to have a fire extinguisher at home too). 

4. Have an escape plan

No one ever thinks a fire will happen in their home, but you want to play it safe and have a solid plan if one does happen. If you live in a high-rise condo unit, know where the emergency exits are located on your floor and any other vital information the association recommends. For a house, make sure everyone knows the quickest and safest way out. Practice this plan with the entire family and pick a specific spot where you can meet outside. 

5. Locate the emergency toolbox and contact phone numbers

Most of the San Diego region has been hit with power outages during a rainstorm or wildfire at some point over the years. That’s why it’s important to have a “toolbox” in a certain location that all family members can access. Fill it with flashlights, batteries, water, dry goods, and other necessary items. Know how to use a gasoline generator before a storm strikes, and that goes with any natural gas heating device too.

Also, have a handy list printed for family so that they can easily contact the fire department, ambulance, police, plumber, electrician, and power company for an emergency situation. 

These are the top 5 things every homeowner and family member should know about. Its important to know how you’d handle these and other emergencies before they happen.  Hope this information is helpful to you so you can start planning today!  And, as always, reach out to me at if you have any questions at all!


I'm Catherine and I help international buyers and sellers reach their real estate goals!
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Hi, there!

I'm Catherine Olive and I got into real estate to help foreign nationals, expats and international students navigate the home buying and selling process to avoid challenges I faced due to lack of knowledge. My goal is to make sure that I help you settle and make owning a home in the U.S. a reality.

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