Emergency Measures around the Apartment

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Emergency Measures around the Apartment

Eva R. Marienchild · Jul 31, 2015

What do you do when you have an apartment emergency on your hands and your on-site maintenance crew has packed up their tool boxes for the holiday? Or let’s say you have a plumbing or electrical issue and you live in a complex that doesn’t HAVE ready access to a superintendent or maintenance crew?

Here are a few examples of what to do when you’re up against an apartment emergency.

Your Toilet’s Stopped Up

  • You flushed multiple wads of toilet paper down the toilet, and, when you attempt to flush, your toilet starts to give off a “glug-glug sound”. Nine times out of 10 you WON’T need a snake (a coiled extension hose that is inserted down the toilet piping). Instead, a simple yet effective solution-one that does NOT involve caustic chemicals-is to first flush the toilet so it empties as much water as possible.
  • Squirt liquid soap into the opening. Fill a pail with scalding water. Dump the water slowly into the opening.
  • Do this a few times.
  • You’ll probably still need to create more suction to complete the job. Take a plunger. Make sure the flange side is pulled out. Start to plunge in and out, at first cautiously, and then with accelerated pressure. Let the toilet fill up again so the water level covers the plunger.
  • Continue to plunge with force. These plungers are made to create a powerful suction. The idea is to dislodge whatever’s clogging the pipes.You’ll note that a seal of air has formed at the opening. Keep that seal unbroken while you plunge.
  • Keep this up until the toilet starts to flush all the way.

When Power Goes Off; How to Restore the Lights

You might not need to bring in a professional if it’s a simple matter of your having blown a fuse. How can you tell? If you can discount an electrical storm, and it’s not a case of everyone’s power being turned off (you’d be able to look out your window and see total darkness if it were the latter), you should consider whether perhaps you overloaded the circuits.

Were you using the iron at the same time as the curling iron? What about your hair dryer? These three items create intense heat, and draw upon much electricity.

Take the following steps:

  • Find your circuit breaker. The usual rule of thumb is that, in an apartment building with less than ten units, the circuit breaker or power box is behind the dwelling. If you have no idea where it is, go outside and search for the power lines. Where do the lines or wires go? That’s where your power box is. If you live in a larger complex, your unit probably has the power box in one of the bedroom walls.
  • Once you’ve located your corresponding box, you’ve got to ID which one “tripped”. Open the box and look at the row of toggles. Which one is out of line with the others? Once you find it, just flip it back into place.

Your Kitchen Is Overrun By Ants

Ants, those busy little workhorses, don’t show up overnight. They send a few scouts and, if the coast is WAY littered with their kind of enticements (crumbs, sticky fingerprints, garbage not taken out for a few days), they’ll round up the entire crew. You’ll see a trail of these visitors, because they enter in a straight line, and there will be hundreds coming and going. Here are a few simple, non-toxic solutions:

  • Ants do not like apple cider vinegar. Get a spray bottle and mix half water with half apple cider vinegar. Target the path the ants are taking. Follow the path and see where the entry point is. For instance, they might be entering through a crevice near your front door or through a window that’s not air-tight. Go back and wipe down any counters, etc.
  • Sprinkle cayenne pepper where you’ve seen ants. This is another natural deterrent.

If both of these haven’t done the trick in a week or so, buy Diatomaceous Earth, a white powder made from microscopic diatoms, or fossilized remains of aquatic organisms. Careful not to breathe this in, as the powder is extremely fine and may be an irritant to your lungs; it’s otherwise perfectly natural and safe. Sprinkle a little where you have last seen the ants.

How to Deal with a Small Fire

First, always be prepared. Check your fire alarms to ensure the batteries are functioning. There’s a test button you press and, if it beeps, all is well. A light will go off on most models if it’s time to switch out batteries. Second, keep a fire extinguisher handy. Study the diagrams on the back of the container; know where the clip is and how to aim the nozzle. Third, keep it in a spot where it’s accessible. You don’t want to have to struggle to reach it or to open too many cabinets to get at it.

Finally, do not leave fans or other devices on too long, as the cord could heat up, and you may not notice that there is a section that is frayed. If you DO see a frayed wire, remove the device immediately and either replace the wire or throw the device away. Space heaters, small stoves and any electrical device (like a microwave) should be operated ONLY when you are on the premises, and should never be left on overnight. Also a high-risk item: candles. Keep them away from anything flammable, like towels.

If, despite precautions, you see a small fire develop, grab your fire extinguisher and aim it right for the source of the fire. If the fire has spread, leave immediately and ask the nearest neighbor to summon help. (You should also know the three digit number for emergency fire rescue.)

If you are careful and plan ahead, you should be able to prevent such a mishap.

Remember: think positively!

 

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