When do you know it’s an emergency…or not?

As a condo owner, do you know when it is an emergency….and what to do in case of:

  • Fire? Gas leak/carbon monoxide? Flooding?
  • No electricity or water? No heat/air conditioning?
  • Clogged plumbing?
  • Noisy neighbours? Locked out of apt?

It is important as a condo owner to know when an emergency is an emergency, when it is not and what you should do. One way to identify true emergencies is to apply a “blood, flood or fire” test. Any issue that involves blood, flood or fire should be treated as an emergency by managers and directors unless proven to be otherwise.These are situations where a condominium manager should be contacted regardless of the day or hour.

WHAT IS AN EMERGENCY? A maintenance emergency is something that, if it isn’t repaired immediately, could cause injury, threaten your health, or cause serious property damage. These things could include:

  • Fire (call 911 first then maintenance)
  • A broken water line or flooding
  • A broken gas line or leak (natural gas smells like rotten eggs)
  • No air conditioning in hot weather/no heat in freezing weather
  • A sewer back-up that is flooding your condo
  • A broken lock on your door

WHAT ISN’T AN EMERGENCY? Not every maintenance
issue is an emergency. If, for example, you have a minor drip under your kitchen sink that can be contained with a bucket, you’ll definitely want maintenance to take a look, but it isn’t an emergency. Here are some other situations where you could probably get away with submitting a routine maintenance request:

  • A broken air conditioner when the temperature outside is below90 degrees/A broken heater when the temperature outside is above 50 degrees
  • There’s no hot water
  • The stove burner isn’t heating up
  • Your ice maker stopped working
  • A lightbulb went out


In a condominium, it is your responsibility to manage your individual unit. For any shared components of the building, such as the hallways, elevators and parking garage, it is the responsibility of the condominium board.

If there is an emergency situation that affects the common elements of your building, notify your condominium board immediately.

If the emergency situation is in your unit, contact the builder. Your builder has up to 24 hours to resolve the emergency by making your unit safe and secure and preventing any further damage from occurring. These would include the following:

  • Complete loss of heat/electricity/water
  • Gas leak
  • Complete stoppage of sewage disposal;
  • Plumbing leak that requires the entire water supply to be shut off;
  • Major water penetration on the walls or ceilings;
  • A large pool of standing water that makes the condominium unsafe or uninhabitable.
  • Major collapse of any part of the condominium’s exterior or interior structure;

As a condo owner you should:

  • Make an emergency kit to keep everyone living in your condo healthy for 72 hours.
  • Test the fire alarm in your condo every six months. Ask your property manager for a copy of its instructions.
  • Ask your property manager for a copy of the building’s Fire Safety Plan*
  • Emergency contact numbers (9-1-1, property manager, etc.)
  • A list of occupants with special needs ready for firefighters when they arrive at the building
  • If your building has a superintendent or security guard on site, call them so they can meet first responders (police, fire, ambulance) and bring them to you.

*Fire Safety/Emergency Plans should include:

  • the locations of pull stations for fire alarms
  • a description of alarm sounds (if the building has a multiple-level alarm system)
  • instructions to ensure safe actions during an emergency (such as testing doorknobs before opening doors)
  • detailed, safe evacuation routes via stairwells

Emergencies do happen and it’s important to have a plan and know what to do whether it’s an emergency – or not.


For over 20 years, Huron Shores Property Management has specialized in managing condominium complexes across Southwestern Ontario from Windsor to London.


Looking to hire a professional condominium management company in Windsor Essex? Contact us for a no obligation consultation meeting today.

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