Seconds passed after the 17-year-old lit the cherry bomb and haphazardly tossed it. “Billy”, a typical cute 3-year-old, curiously picked it up and carried it toward his loving parents who were awestruck.

Cherry bombs are incredibly powerful, and their fuses burn quickly. Luckily “Billy” did not put the firecracker near his face.

“Angela”, an observant neighbor, was watching the fireworks show and instinctively observed “Billy” too. Mothers do that. She yelled to alert “David”, a 12-year-old near “Billy”, who slapped the cherry bomb out of “Billy’s” hand. It exploded a moment later. The 4th of July party continued.

“Billy” escaped injury with his little fingers and hand intact today because “Angela” reacted quickly, and “David” responded bravely with no hesitation. They prevented a disaster and are heroes.

Most of us have w-powered witnessed potential disasters. We can recite stories of near misses and may be alive today because “Lady Luck” was smiling at us.

Disasters are described as an event that has unfortunate consequences. It’s common to believe disasters will happen to others and somewhat downplay the same disaster can happen to us. A good example is the recent flooding of sewage in basements. That was a near-miss for many that may happen again.

The reality is a sewage backup can occur at any home or business. Odds increase when unusual downpours take place, but the reality is City sewer mains plug up regularly because of heavy usage. The risk of “gurgling goo” backing up can happen to anyone.

One solution to prevent a sewage backup disaster is to install a backwater valve in the main building sewer. A backwater valve is an automatic check valve that closes as sewage is pushed back against it. The valve must be disassembled to allow sewer cabling.

An alternate solution to fully stop sewer backup is to install a sewer gate valve that must be manually closed when sewage begins to back up. It’s best to have a warning alarm to provide notification as sewage begins to back up.

Sewers that back up should be flushed and visually inspected with a sewer camera!

Another common disaster is stormwater sump pump failure. To reduce the risk of that disaster it’s important to install a quality sump pump and be diligent about scheduling regular maintenance. Avoid inexpensive plastic sump pumps that are similar to purchasing a cheap parachute. Both can cause disasters!

At a minimum, it’s good to have a quality sump pump in place. Better yet is having two sump pumps at different elevations in the same pit.

Another method to reduce the risk of basement flooding disasters is to have a battery sump pump or a water-powered sump pump for backup. The water-powered sump pump uses City water pressure to power it and would be my first choice for backup pumps if the Code-required vacuum breakers could be the cheaper atmospheric type.

Another disaster that commonly occurs is flooding from domestic water failures. Piping joints can fail, but risks can even include defective faucets like the one that flooded home in South Lincoln recently. Do you know where your water meter with the two shut-off valves is located? Are those valves immediately accessible?

A scary potential disaster is a broken natural gas pipe. An incredible risk I saw was in an unfinished basement that was also the playroom for kids. The water heater had a high-pressure natural gas copper supply pipe hooked to it. The flared fitting on the 3/8” copper pipe was all that held that wobbly pipe in place.

If that copper piping was hit with a ball or pushed, odds are good the naturally weak copper flared joint would crack and quickly fill the basement filled with natural gas. Does your water heater have a natural gas copper pipe supplying it? Is it supported properly?

Some disasters take time to occur. For instance, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Our community has fairly high levels of radon. Does your sump pit have a sealed cover on it to prevent radon from being drawn into your HVAC system?

The world goes on quickly around us. Life may be fantastic at the moment, but our fate can quickly change. We will always have potential disasters lurking around us. We learn from experience and have the ability to prevent most disasters. The best time to prevent a future disaster is now.

Have a happy and safe day!

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