Table Of Contents
Electrical Fire Safety
The first thing to know about electrical fires is that they can be very dangerous. Electrical fires are often started by short circuits or overcurrent, which can cause severe injury or death if not identified and handled quickly.
Electrical fires often start with tiny sparks, then grow into large flames. This is because electricity travels along the wires at a very high speed, which is why touching any electrical equipment damaged by a fire is very dangerous.
Most homes have an electrical outlet with a GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter). The GFCI protects an outlet from power surges caused by lightning strikes or other power fluctuations.
A GFCI acts like a breaker switch and cuts off power when it detects an abnormal current flow. This stops the flow of electricity into your home's wiring system, which would otherwise cause an electrical fire.
Common Causes Of Electrical Fires
An electrical fire is generally caused by electrical equipment. It can occur in various ways, but the most common is through a short circuit or overloading.
Short circuits happen when there is an electrical connection between two points where there shouldn't be any. For example, if you plug your computer into an outlet and then touch the cord to something metallic like a piece of foil on the floor, you could create an electrical short circuit. This will cause your (PC) computer to heat to the point where it could catch on fire.
Overloading happens when too many appliances are plugged into one outlet or power strip than what the outlet can handle. If you have multiple appliances plugged into one outlet, this can cause them all to get hot because of drawing power from a single outlet. The result will be overheating and possibly fire.
The Risks Associated With Electrical Fires
Electrical fires are a severe danger to you, your home, and family. If you suspect that an electrical fire might get out of hand, act quickly to put it out before it becomes more significant.
The following are some of the risks associated with electrical fires:
Electrical burns are painful but are usually not life-threatening. However, if an electrical current causes you burns, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Electric shocks are also possible when you touch something exposed to electricity, even just a few volts. If you experience an electric shock, seek immediate medical attention.
Electric fires can cause severe damage to your property and home. In addition to risking your safety and health, electric fires often result in loss of property value and personal injury claims if not dealt with properly.
Putting Out An Electrical Fire
Unplug your space heater from its outlet and move it away from where you need to put out a fire if its plug is at the back of the unit. If there is no plug, unscrew the top panel and remove any insulation blocking access to the back of the unit.
Use a garden hose or fire extinguisher to wet down any flammable materials in the room (such as curtains), then ventilate it with a fan or air cleaner. Move anything that might burn away from the heating element and ensure there are no other ignition sources nearby (such as candles).
Don't touch the power cord
The most common cause of an electric fire is your power cord. The power cord is the wire that carries electricity to the outlet. If there are any breaks in the lead or if it is not securely attached, it can cause an electrical fire.
Don't touch the power or plug anything into an outlet damaged by water or exposed to extreme heat or cold for extended periods. It's best not to use damaged outlets because they may have water damage or other issues that could lead to a more significant problem down the road.
Check the circuit breaker on your fuse box
The leading cause of electrical fires is overloading a circuit. Check the circuit breaker on your fuse box. If it is on, turn it off. If your circuit breaker does not trip and you have a GFCI outlet, use a non-damaging electrical tool to check the circuit. Ask someone who knows about electrical systems if you're unsure where to start. They can help you discover what's causing the problem and how to fix it.
Check the reset button on your GFCI outlet
It's essential to know how to put out an electrical fire. Suppose you live in an older residence with GFCI outlets. A GFCI outlet is a type of circuit breaker that will shut off electricity when it detects a problem. If you have children or pets, the best way to prevent accidents is to ensure your outlets are safe.
Some outlets have a reset button on top of them, and others have one on the side of the outlet. If you don't know which variety you own, check with the manufacturer of your home's appliances or wiring system.
Turn off power to your circuit before touching anything else
This will help ensure that you don't accidentally turn something on while trying to fix the problem and cause additional damage to yourself or others nearby.
Ensure there are no appliances plugged into electrical outlets
This will help prevent possible electrocution if there is still power going through those outlets even after being turned off by GFCIs.
Turn off appliances using their switches or plugs
Check the circuit breaker on your fuse box if you have a gas range. If it is not tripped, turn it off.
Unplug your appliance from its receptacle
Ensure all plugs are in place and firmly seated in their sockets.
You can reset an appliance with a built-in timer or clock by turning it off and back on again. If the power goes out unexpectedly, reset any clocks or timers that may be running when the power goes out.
Stand behind a wall or barrier
When you're unplugging an appliance, you should stand behind a wall or barrier to protect you from any electricity that might still be flowing through the outlet or cord. A hot plug is a sign that there's an issue with it or that the outlet is overloaded. Unload the plug and call an electrician right away.
Use a fire blanket
Fire blankets are made of a fabric that absorbs water and creates an insulating layer around the fire. Lay your fire blanket flat on the floor and place one end over your hand. Place your other hand on top of the blanket and pull it toward you. Use your body weight to tamp down the flames until the fire goes out.
If there is still light smoke for electrical equipment or wiring, use a fire extinguisher to put out the flames or use any chemicals that contain carbon dioxide, potassium chloride, or halon gas.
Preventing Electrical Fires
Fire safety is a never-ending process. You need to be aware of fire hazards and take measures to avoid them. The most important part of observing electrical safety is how to prevent electrical fires.
- Keep flammable materials away from electrical equipment, appliances, and wiring.
- Never overload a circuit or install multiple circuits for one appliance or device in one room or on one circuit breaker box. Use only one circuit for each appliance or device on the same circuit (e.g., refrigerator, dryer). If you have multiple appliances with different power requirements, use separate circuits for each appliance (e.g., refrigerator, microwave).
- Never place candles near any heat sources such as stoves, radiators, or furnaces; they can cause fires when they burn too close to the heater element.
- Keep barbecue grills at least 3 ft (0.9m) away from curtains, drapes, and other combustible items that can catch fire easily if the grill catches fire or smokes excessively.
- Use surge protectors on sensitive appliances such as computers, televisions, extension cords, and power strips used frequently around the house or outside in a workshop or garage area.
- Install fire alarms and smoke detectors in your home. These can alert you if smoke or flames are present in your home. You will have time to get out safely if a fire breaks out.
- The most critical measure you can implement to prevent a fire in your home is to update the electrical system. You may have to replace outdated wiring and fixtures with newer ones if you have an older home. If you have a new home, it's best to hire an electrician to do this work for you. This will ensure that your dwelling is safe and protected from potential fires. It may be time to replace old wiring with modern wiring and outlets if you have an older home.
Refrain From Using Water To Put Out An Electrical Fire
Refrain from using water to put out an electrical fire. Water can spread the fire or may contain chemicals that could damage your electrical equipment. If you have to use water, do not use it to douse the fire until a qualified electrician has arrived on the scene.
Pour small amounts at a time if you must use water so that you don't cause any more damage to your electrical equipment. Use a non-conductive material (sand or dirt) to smother the fire. Use a wet blanket over the flame or smother it with wet towels or rags.
If there is any fire outside, wet down anything combustible to prevent contact with oxygen. Do not use flammable liquids to put out a fire as they may explode when mixed with water and create toxic gases.
Contact An Expert To Access Damage
Knowing how to respond to potentially dangerous electrical situations can help prevent electrical fires. Call the local fire brigade or police station and tell them about the situation. Phone the power company to report the incident or a professional electrician to check outlets and cords for signs of electrical damage.
Alternatively, you can go straight to a professional electrician to check outlets and cables for any signs of electrical wear. Find an electrician immediately if you notice any electrical damage, such as frayed or exposed wires. If the fire is minor, use water from a bucket.
Turn off your home's power at the breaker box before doing anything else. If there are no other ways to put out the fire, use a fire extinguisher on the flames. If the fire is larger, disconnecting the electricity is the first thing that one should do before doing anything else.