There are several types of plumbing emergencies that can occur, but the first step in all solutions is to turn off the water in the supply line that feeds the leaking pipe or fixture. If it happens that the point of the leak is hidden or there is no valve in the branch line leading to the leak, you will have to shut off water to the entire house.
If you live in a climate where there is a danger of freezing, the main shutoff valve is usually located in the ground floor. In warmer climates the valve may be located outdoors. If you have a pumped well system, shut off electricity to the pump and call a plumber.
In a case where you are unable to close the shut off valve, contact your local water authority immediately, so that water can be turned off at the main. If the water rises to the level of electrical cords and outlets, there is a possibility that it could be carrying an electrical current. Do not attempt to go near the water until you shut off electricity to the circuits affected. If you are unable to reach the breaker or fuse panel safely, have the power company shut off the electricity to your home.
Even with the variety of freeze- resistant pipe products available, there is still a chance that your pipes could freeze. If this happens, slowly thaw the pipe with a hair dryer, or with towels soaked in hot water. By heating the pipe slowly, you are preventing the pipe from breaking. You do not want to heat the pipe with a torch, as it could start a fire. In order to prevent frozen pipes, you should never leave your home unheated during cold weather.