Your Complete Guide to Building Emergencies
Emergency Protocols for Your Building and Residents:
As we head into the winter season, the number of after-hours (weekend) building emergency calls we receive drastically goes up. From lockouts to water leaks to heating issues, we’re coordinating these emergencies at all hours of the day and night.
This can be particularly challenging for us because your super is often covering several buildings like yours, which are on a part-time basis, and with the possibility that multiple emergencies arise at the same time. Moreover, he may reside or currently be far away and may need additional time to travel to your emergency situation.
So, in getting ready for this winter season, I'd like to touch base about what to do during an emergency and what to expect from your super and our team.
First, in order for us to successfully handle all emergencies that we’re call in for, we need to prioritize them in the order of importance. Your safety and welfare are priority so anything that endangers that comes first.
Next, preventing property damage. Our “modus operandi” (as for all supers throughout the world) is to find the cause of the damage, determine if the threat is active (ongoing) and then to stop it. Once it's stopped, the repair of it is postponed until a later date or at least the following business day, unless necessary (threat to safety or welfare).
It’s important to mention that building emergencies are addressed in the order of priority, not the order of call, so please be patient while your super works down this line.
To help guide you in determining what is priority, I’ve included a list of possible emergencies below, in the order of importance. Additionally, I’ve added what you should do when such events arise. Feel free to download the PDF version to hang on your refrigerator as reference or keep around should you ever need it.
Before we start, please note our after-hours emergency phone numbers. Please call us directly and do not email as response time will be delayed!
8:30am to 5pm, Monday thru Friday, call: (212) 727-8737.
For all other times, please call: (646) 715-3642.
If you’re guided to an answering service, please give your name, the building address, apartment number and phone number. Finally, please state the emergency clearly as well as give any other pertinent information. There’s no such thing as “TMI” here!
For your reference, Your Emergency May Look Like this:
First thing, remember not to panic!
If the radiator GIFs above worries you, read our simple health checklist for steam radiator and valves here and let us know you'd like your super to come by your apartment and check your radiator and valves.
List of Emergencies in Building and Unit:
Okay! Here we go:
- 1FIRE: First call 911 and then call us.
- 2GAS: Ventilate the area and call anytime you smell gas.
- 3SMOKE: this can be tricky as we’ve found that most calls about smoke is relatively harmless, such as related to food burns or chimney backdraft of smoke. So, call us first if you’re not sure.
- 4WATER LEAKS: Call us right away. There are many sources when it comes to a water leak inside an apartment: the shower, toilet, sink, radiator, air conditioners, outside elements, such as rain or snow. It could come from the apartment directly above or from many floors above. The leak could be ongoing and continuous (supply) or temporary (conditional) such as whenever someone uses the shower or flushes the toilet. Because water can cause a lot of damage in its wake, call us right away if you detect water where it’s not normally expected to be, such as on the floor or coming from overhead near the windows or AC.
- 5ELECTRICAL: If a circuit breaker or fuse has blown and you are unable to reset, let us know. Remove the appliance or equipment from the outlet. Burning smell from an outlet must be reported as soon as possible.
- 6PLUMBING FAILURE: In general, this section includes any problem that you cannot stop or control, such as water running due to a broken fixture handle. Also, any sludge or debris coming up sink/tub drain that you cannot control must be reported. Running water in the toilet should also be reported as soon as possible as this causes an accelerated wear and tear of the toilet seal, which can cause a worsening water leak.
- 7CLOGGED TOILET: This problem may require a quick pump or two with a plunger to resolve. If this doesn’t work, a toilet snake should do. DO NOT use chemical products in clogged plumbing.
- 8WATER SUPPLY: Report lack of hot or cold water or sudden lack of water pressure.
- 9NO HEAT IN BUILDING: Call us. Sometimes, this can signal a serious issue. At other times, this is due to the normal setup of the boiler. I’ll be sending a complete guide on how to survive the heating season soon.
- 10ELEVATOR: Let us know if there is any elevator breakdown or malfunction.
- 11ALARM(S): These include alarm(s) going off that residents cannot address, such as front door buzzer stuck in the on-position, boiler alarm sounding audibly, alarms for the emergency exit doors on the roof and/or in basement. Don't panic, let us know.
- 12ANYTHING THAT MAY AFFECT RESIDENTS' IMMEDIATE SAFETY: For example, building entry doors not being functional (not opening or closing properly) or a key broken off and stuck in the front door lock.
- 13ANYTHING THAT AFFECTS THE OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE OF THE BUILDING: Such as basement flooding.
Other Personal Emergencies:
You may notice that I've left out "personal emergencies," such as apartment lockouts. There's also non-urgent emergencies (yes, an oxymoron), such as rogue dog poop in the elevator. Other strange emergency situations have come up, like a resident losing a wedding ring down the drain and needing a super to retrieve it with his plumbing know-how.
Whatever your personal emergency, give us a call. Your supers should respond to these calls in timely fashion as well. Once again, he'll be responding to them in the order of importance against the other emergencies he must tend to, so please be patient if there are multiple emergencies going on.
I'll have news updates on our emergency system periodically, which will be geared towards making your emergency response time shorter and your super better trained to handle such issues. Keep your eyes peeled and let us know if we are on the right track!
Stay safe. Remain calm. And see you guys soon!