Emergency Response

I hadn’t planned on discussing emergencies twice in one week, but that’s the thing about emergencies: they sort of appear unexpectedly. Today I got to respond to one, rather against my will. Things are under control and slowly improving, but it was an interesting way to spend an afternoon.

What happened is that some plumbing work was being done in the apartment above mine when suddenly I heard the white noise of water flowing as if through a pipe. It was: a pipe upstairs had broken and water flowed along the floor and sought the lowest point gravity would allow it, which happened to be the electrical fixture for the light above my dining room table. I must admit, I didn’t respond as quickly as I probably should, but then I wasn’t certain the noise concerned me. The flowing water was above my head, though fortunately not above my office.

I got up from my desk and followed my ears until I heard the noise above my dining room and then a cascade of H2O pouring out of a place that usually did not produce water. I finally put myself into action:

  • Kept clear of the light switch.
  • Called in the emergency (since it obviously wasn’t something I was able to address).
  • Pulled the materials of mine that were in danger of being harmed.
  • When I got no answer on the emergency maintenance call, I went upstairs to find the source of the water and whether it was going to stop any time soon.
  • Grabbed a bucket and put it under the comically raining light fixture.
  • Started to clean up the puddle on top of my table.

Fortunately, the water did stop eventually and I was able to talk to the maintenance guys about what was happening. They surveyed the damage and I asked how long it would take to fix…all that: the ceiling, the light fixture, the carpet, the ceiling buckling in my bathroom, what have you.

I suppose it’s a good sign that I did not freak out or start screaming at anyone, though I suspect my reaction would’ve been quite different if the water had been flowing down on top of my computer. Anyhow, I had enough common sense to try to address the immediate problems in the proper order: 1) See what can be done to stop the problem. 2) Save whatever’s important that’s close to the accident. 3) Start cleaning up.

Cleaning up might take a while, though the maintenance guys did bring in a shop vacuum, dehumidifier, and a trio of high-powered fans, so they’re doing their best to dry things out. Repairing the light fixture and the ceiling might take a while, and I’ll probably have to replace my dining room chairs, though as my mother is fond of saying, it could always be worse. Bottom line: emergencies happen. The goal should be to address/fix/stop the emergency before recovering from it. You can do this.

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About Bart Leahy

Freelance Technical Writer, Science Cheerleader Event & Membership Director, and an all-around nice guy. Here to help.
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