Electricity makes all our lives easier, but it comes with certain residential risks. Homeowners need to know the warning signs of potential electrical fires.
Causes Of Electrical Fires
Identifying the potential causes of an electrical fire at home can help you avoid disaster. Here are a few common causes of electrical fires:
- Outdated wiring.
- Lack of maintenance.
- Extension cord misuse.
- Ignoring safety codes.
- Overloaded circuits.
- Faulty or old appliances and outlets.
- Space heaters are too close to flammable objects.
- Light bulbs exceed recommended wattage.
Electrical Fire Signs
Recognizing a potential issue in a timely matter is crucial in preventing an electrical fire. It’s suggested to call an experienced electrician immediately if any of the following occurs:
- Constant burning smell.
- Flickering and/or dimming of the lights.
- Sparks while plugging in outlets.
- Frequent circuit breaker tripping.
- Discolored switches/outlets.
How To Prevent Electrical Fire
Undoubtedly, the best way to prevent any home fires is to have an electrician inspect your home to ensure it meets the safety provisions in the NEC. You should always use light bulbs that match the recommended wattage for the lamp or fixture. Always refrain from overloading the outlets and never use extension cords with heating units or air conditioners.
Take note of any signs of a potential fire, such as flickering lights, circuit breakers tripping frequently and buzzing sounds. Look to see if any wires have worn over time. Call an electrician if you see smoke or smell anything burning near appliances, cords, plugs or outlets.
How To Put Out Electrical Fire
Knowing exactly how to respond quickly to any electrical fire can be the difference between a small fire and a devastating fire. Many home structure fires come from an electrical source and can be hard to identify. Follow these steps to put out the fire safely.
Step 1. Cut Off Electricity
- Try to locate the device that is the source of the fire, if you can do so safely.
- If you can reach the cord/outlet safely, unplug it.
Step 2. Use Sodium Bicarbonate
- A Small fire can be put out by smothering it with baking soda.
Step 3. Cut Off Oxygen Supply
- To deprive the fire of oxygen, place a heavy blanket over the fire.
Step 4. Do Not Use Water
- Since water is a natural conductor of electricity, refrain from throwing water onto the fire.
- Using water could result in you getting shocked or electrocuted.
- Water may simply enable the fire to spread.
Step 5. Check Fire Extinguisher
- An electrical fire is considered a Class C fire.
- Make sure your fire extinguisher can be used appropriately for this class of fire.
- Typical residential extinguishers are labeled ABC for multi-purpose.
- Verify the ABC label before attempting to use it to put out the electrical fire.
How To Prevent An Electrical Fire
Undoubtedly, the best way to prevent these fires is to have an electrician inspect the home to ensure it meets the safety provisions in the NEC. Homeowners should always use lightbulbs that match the recommended wattage for the lamp or fixture. Never overload the outlets or use extension cords with air conditioners/heating units.
Keep an eye out for any signs of a potential fire, including such things as buzzing sounds, tripping circuit breakers and flickering lights. Check your wires to see if there are any signs of wear over time. Always call an electrician if you see smoke or smell anything burning as part of an outlet, appliance, plug or cord.
How To Put Out An Electrical Fire Without A Fire Extinguisher
If your home is ablaze due to a Class C electrical fire, it’s recommended to use dirt, sand, baking soda or a heavy blanket to put out the flames if no extinguisher is within reach. Electrical fires are the result of damaged or malfunctioning electrical equipment. The fires generally begin as electrical issues in wires, cables and circuit breakers. Failure to properly care for your electrical equipment or overloading circuits can lead to these unfortunate and dangerous outbreaks.
What Should You Do If You Can’t Put Out The Fire?
If you cannot extinguish the flames, then exit the home immediately. Make sure you close the door(s) behind you to contain the flames. Call 911 as soon as you are a safe distance away from the home. Do not re-enter the home until firefighters deem it safe.