What to do during a water main break

Los Angeles residents just can’t seem to catch a break. Lately it seems that our city’s water mains are rupturing left and right. In July, a major break occurred in Westwood, costing millions in repairs and causing untold damage to the UCLA campus. This was followed by a flood in Echo Park and most recently, a major break in West Hollywood that disrupted traffic and businesses on our famous Sunset Strip.

Reportedly, the leading cause of water main breaks is old pipes. Left unattended for decades, these underground lines eventually yield to the pressures of water and time, and Angelenos are forced to deal with the ensuing chaos.

As floods seem to be a new way of life around town, we thought we’d offer up some tips on how to deal with one if it affects you.

Stay calm

This is a good rule of thumb for any emergency. When disaster strikes, you need to keep a clear head. Hasty decisions can exacerbate the situation. If you happen to be affected by a break, stay calm. You don’t need to be a survivalist or the best plumber Los Angeles has to offer to successfully handle a crisis like this. React as if your home’s pipe burst or clogged toilet overflowed. Whether you’re attending a Lakers game at the Staples Center or shopping Downtown, look for the nearest, safest exit. It goes without saying, but avoid any area that’s underwater.

Find dry ground

After the severity of the situation hits you, and you’ve properly assessed the problem, move to dry ground as soon as possible. The more time you spend in the disaster zone, the more you put yourself in danger.

As with any emergency, you won’t see a ruptured water main break coming. You may be walking your dog through Hollywood or seeing a concert at Disney Hall. If you’re outside, drive to a dry area immediately. If the flood makes it impossible to navigate your car, you’ll have to decide whether you’re going to wait patiently for authorities, or try to exit and get away on foot. However, being inside has its disadvantages too. You should move outside if possible, or up to a higher floor if you must.

Don’t use your water just yet

Once you’ve removed yourself from harm’s way and alerted the authorities, don’t assume your safe just yet. Unfortunately, a water main break can wreak havoc on your community’s plumbing for many hours (or even days) after the initial incident. This, of course, means your home’s water supply is at risk. The copper piping may deposit tainted water through your sink. Los Angeles residents should keep up with news developments. Once authorities have properly fixed the break, they’ll alert you. Only then is it safe to resume using your water for drinking, showering, etc.