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How to stay in control of an emergency situation

Updated on August 6, 2009

Don't panic!

Let's face it, when bad things happen it's never at a good time. So the calmer you keep yourself, the less stressful it can be.

Corporal Jones in Dad's Army had the right idea but was really hopeless in a crisis. Staying calm means the emergency services can get the information they need from you a lot easier and get things moving faster.

Deep breath

The emergency services need to know what and where. Summarise the situation briefly and clearly and give your location, spelling any tricky words if necessary. If you can use a landline, and not a mobile phone, it's better because the services can locate you by your number if you get cut off. Of course if it's a fire, don't stay in the area but call from a safe distance.

Obviously for an immediately serious situation, don't hesitate to call emergence service, but what about the les serious, but still very worrying, things that can occur at anytime?

It's helpful to have an idea of what to do so a well as listing all the useful numbers you might need, and all in one place, Here are a few tips to help you deal with common occurrences.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU SMELL GAS

Fling open the windows to clear the air. That should reduce the smell, as well as any danger. If it's dark, don't turn any more lights on to avoid the risk of sparks. And of course never use a naked flame, such as a lighter or matches, to see your way. This would be a really good time to give up smoking, too!

It may not even be a leak; it's easy to turn on a cooker gas ring without noticing so check the kitchen. If that isn't the cause shut down all your gas appliances and then turn off your gas meter at the mains supply. Do you know where that is? Best to find out now. It's probably under the stairs or near the door.

Report the leak immediately.

WHAT TO DO WHEN THE KIDS ARE ILL IN THE NIGHT

We can't help worrying about the kids and the night always makes things seem a lot more scary. If a child looks flushed, or feels hot and sweaty, they may have a fever. A home-use thermometer is useful here and you can buy them at chemists.

If the child's temperature reads over 38e or 1OO.4F, then they're definitely unwell. Try to keep them cool, while keeping your own, by making sure they aren't overdressed and only have a light cotton sheet on the bed. Plus give them plenty of chilled drinks. If your child is under a year old, or you think that the symptoms are getting worse, call emergency health service.


WHAT TO DO WHEN A PIPE BURSTS

It's the stuff of comedy films but it's no laughing matter when it happens to you. Do you know where your mains stop tap is? If not try poking about under the sink and looking where the pipe comes into your home. It may be stiff at first but turn it clockwise to shut down the supply. It could take a few moments for the water to slow and then stop.

If you have a ceiling bulging with water, pierce the ceiling with a broom handle to let the water come down. That may sound drastic, but believe me it's a lot better (and cheaper) than waiting for the whole ceiling to collapse.

After you've mopped up or bailed out all that water, leave all your windows, doors and built-in cupboards open for the best possible air circulation.


WHAT TO DO IF YOU'VE LOST YOUR PASSPORT

Most of us only leave the country a few times a year and it's easy to leave checking the passport's whereabouts until the last minute. And if it's gone missing then you're in trouble, so keep it in the same safe place all year round (and check the expiry date, too).

If you lose it in the UK contact your local police station and the Identity & Passport Office. You may be able to get a replacement in time if you move quickly.

If you lose it when abroad don't panic, report the loss as soon as possible so that it can be cancelled. Contact the local police then the nearest Embassy, Consulate or High Commission.

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