Through our Spread the Warmth campaign, we’re helping older people to stay warm, safe and well at home this winter.

But what if bad weather means there’s an emergency or something goes wrong in the house? Here’s some advice, which may come in handy should the worst happen.

 Where can I get information in an emergency?

Tune into your local radio or TV station for up-to-date news bulletins. The media will normally broadcast the latest updates on the situation and publicise phone numbers to contact. You can also use the emergency contact details in this booklet (see pages 17 & 18) if you have a specific issue, for instance, burst pipes or an electricity failure.

What can I do if I have a burst pipe?

Turn off the water supply by turning the stopcock clockwise. The stopcock is usually found in your kitchen, below the sink unit. However in some houses it is found in a front or back hall. Try and block the water with thick cloths. Contact a reputable plumber, your Housing Association, Landlord or the NI Housing Executive. If water has come into contact with electrical fittings, electricity should be turned off at the mains.

I’m worried about Carbon Monoxide poisoning – what do I do?

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning to look out for are headaches, nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, collapse and loss of consciousness. Anyone who experiences one or more of these symptoms should seek medical advice straightaway. Remember to have all household appliances safety checked and serviced on a yearly basis by a competent engineer. You can find a registered engineer in your area by visiting or by calling 0800 408 5500.

What should I do if my water is cut off?

If your supply fails, there may be a burst pipe somewhere in your home or there may be a leak in the mains system. Call NI Water on 0845 744 0088 if you think the problem is an issue with the mains.

I’m worried about bogus callers in my area. What should I do?

Sometimes people claim to be from reputable organisations so that they can trick their way into people’s homes. It is very important to be wary and if you suspect that someone isn’t who they say there are, call Quick Check on 0800 013 2290, a 24 freephone service to verify the identity of your caller.

Don’t forget that Power NI also has a free Customer Care Register, if you are worried about people impersonating your electricity provider. The Register includes a password scheme, which means any Power NI representative calling at your door has to provide you with a pre-agreed password before gaining access to your home. call 03457 455 455* or visit our website at

 For further information on preparing for winter, staying warm indoors and out, plus staying healthy please visit our Spread the warmth page.