One of the worst nightmares of any home or property owner is an electrical fire. While taking adequate preventative measures to guard against accidental fires is the best thing you can do, it is also very important to be prepared and educated on the steps to putting out an electrical fire. When you’re prepared and understand the steps to take, you will be able to calmly handle any emergency situation.
How Do Electrical Fires Start?
Electrical fires are the second most common household fires but often do the most damage to property and are more likely to involve fatalities. There are several ways that electrical fires can start but here are just a few of the most common reasons electrical fires occur:
Faulty electrical wiring that isn’t up to code
- Old and failing electrical appliances
- Using the wrong wattage in light fixtures
- Improper use of extension cords
- Space heaters near flammable materials
- Ungrounded plugs
- Flammable materials near light fixtures
Step 1: Safety First
The first thing you want to do in the case of an electrical fire is to make sure you and all the people in the building are safely out of harm’s way before you make any attempts to put out the fire. After altering all people in the vicinity of the fire, immediately contact the fire department. The safety of yourself and the people around you is more important than the property that might get damaged. If the fire can not be immediately located or is spreading rapidly, do not try to put it out but evacuate the area immediately.
Step 2: Assess The Situation
After you have taken into account personal safety and that of those around you, assess the situation and use your best judgment on whether the electrical fire is one that you can put out. If it is a small, contained fire or simple smolder, it is possible for you to handle the situation and prevent it from getting worse. However, electrical fires grow quickly and it’s better to err on the side of caution. If the fire is too large or the source is not easily identified, evacuate the building.
Step 3: Use a Fire Extinguisher, Baking Soda, or Blanket NEVER WATER
It is important to note that you never want to use water on an electrical fire. Water will conduct the electricity and could lead to deadly electrocution. It can also end up being counterproductive and spreading the fire further.
- Every home and business should have a working, non-expired fire extinguisher on every floor and in every bedroom.
- This is the best tool to stop an electrical fire. Once located, follow the directions on the side of the fire extinguisher.
- Everyone in the home or office should read the instructions and become familiar with fire extinguishers beforehand.
- After the fire has been thoroughly doused and all instructions followed, evacuate the premises until it can be inspected by the fire department.
Baking Soda or Blanket
- If there is no fire extinguisher present, use baking soda or a thick blanket. Baking soda or a thick blanket will help suffocate the flames.
- Only use this method if the flames are small enough to be easily covered by the blanket or a handful of powder.
- Never use any powder that you aren’t sure is baking soda.
- Once doused, turn off the source of electricity if in the immediate area
- Evacuate the premise until fire marshals can assess the safety of the area.
Step 4: Evacuate and Wait for The Fire Department
Even if all visible signs of a fire are extinguished, all persons need to evacuate the building until it can be cleared by a fire marshal. One of the most dangerous aspects of an electrical fire is its ability to re-kindle or be contained out of sight in places like the space between walls. Never assume that a fire is no longer a threat until told it is safe by a fire marshal.
Worried About An Electrical Fire? Let Us Help.
One of the best ways to prevent an electrical fire is to make sure the wiring in your home is safe and up to code. If you suspect that there is old or failing electrical wiring in your home or business, reach out to us for an inspection today!