Electrical fires are notoriously difficult to put out because they spread very quickly and require a large amount of fire extinguishing to dampen the power source. In this article, we will discuss different strategies of how to put out electrical fire.
Electricity is one of the most commonly used sources of energy. However, when fire occurs, they can be difficult to extinguish and very dangerous. It is better to be prepared and know how to deal with different types of fires when they occur.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at some common causes of electrical fires and how to deal with them.
What Can Cause An Electrical Fire?
Let’s take a few moments to look at some common causes of electrical fires.
Faulty Electrical Equipment
Some electrical equipment is prone to damage more than others. Space Heaters and toasters are the most common electrical equipment to be faulty. These should always be checked regularly for damage or wear.
Overloaded Circuits and Wires
Overloading a circuit is a major stressor for the wires that it feeds, resulting in short circuiting. If you overload a circuit, you will either have to reposition the wires or you can add another circuit to the area, therefore preventing overloading.
Loose Wiring or Physical Damage
A loose wiring or physical damage to the wires can cause an electrical fire. Loose wires should be checked regularly for damaged insulation, and loose connections should be reattached. Physical damage, such as a burnout from dragging a metal object over the wire, should be replaced with an entirely new wire.
Overuse Of Certain Electronics
Overuse of a certain electrical device can cause damage to its insulating material. This causes the electrical flow between two points, like the points of a plug and a socket or wires and an outlet, to be disrupted. It is recommended to use these devices in moderation so as not to cause an excessive wear on the insulators.
Electrical Short Circuits
If you aren’t using a surge protector, your electronics may be prone to short circuiting. A short circuit is when the electricity between two points cannot travel a certain distance because there is an obstacle in its way.
The excess build up of energy causes the device that becomes damaged and subsequently begins to smolder and burn. Surge protectors are essential for electronics when they are being used around water or other conductive elements, such as metal.
What are the Signs of an Electrical Fire?
Arcing, Sparks or Flashes
The most obvious sign of an electrical fire arcs, sparks or flashes. If you see any of these warning signs, it means that there is a short circuit and the device will soon begin to smoke.
Immediately cut power to the area by pulling the plug, or in some cases, flipping the switch off if you are near the source of power. If sparks continue after turning off power, do not go near it under any circumstances.
Heat And Smoldering
Heat and smoldering are other signs of an electrical fire. If you see heat or smoke coming from the power source, it needs to be shut off immediately. If there is an explosion, it means that too much heat has built up within the source and must be extinguished quickly to prevent further damage.
Sign of Smoke
Smoke is a sign of a fire, and as such should not be ignored. Smoke coming from any electronic device is a sure sign of an electrical fire. Shut off power to the area immediately and pull the plug if possible.
Electrical shock is a sign of an electrical fire as well. If you start feeling an uncomfortable tingling or numbness from your body, this is a sign of an electrical shock. It should be stopped immediately if you feel it and treated with first aid.
How To Put Out Electrical Fire?
Always Shut Off Power
If you see any of the signs of an electrical fire, the best way to put it out is to promptly shut off power. Pulling the plug if possible is a much faster way to shut down the fire than cutting off power at the breaker box. If you are not near an outlet, cut power at the breaker box or call a professional electrician.
Extinguish The Flames
Extinguishing the flames of an electrical fire is a difficult task. Fire extinguishers, such as dry chemical or CO2, should be used immediately on any electrical fires.
To extinguish a fire with a dry chemical, spray it directly at the source of the fire to smother it. With CO2, place the canister on top of the fire and turn it on to blow out the flames.
You can also use baking soda as a last resort to try and suffocate the flames. Do not dispose of the burned appliance, but rather let it cool until it is cool enough to handle.
Place the burned appliance in a plastic bag and place it in your trash can outside to prevent a risk of exposure.
Open Up The Area
If an electrical fire occurs within a device, be sure to open up the area so that it can breathe. This will help prevent any further damage from occurring.
Evacuate The Area
If the electrical fire is large or hard to put out, evacuate the area immediately and call a professional fire extinguisher to handle it. If you are in immediate danger, call 911 and enter “O” as your first choice of location when they ask where you are.
If you see any of these signs of an electrical fire, remember to act fast and respond accordingly. If the fire is small, you may be able to extinguish it on your own.
However, if it is large or you aren’t sure how to put it out, contact a professional immediately. Be sure to keep your appliances in good condition and only use them when necessary.
What Class of Fire Extinguisher Will Work for Electrical Fire?
As we discussed above, there are three different classifications of fires that can occur within your home. Electrical fires fall into the Class C category, which requires a dry chemical and CO2 fire extinguishers.
The First Alert Fire Extinguisher PRO5 is a perfect multi-use, affordable, fire extinguisher to have on hand. It is light weight, and comes with a 12 year warranty, meaning you’ll be able to replace it if you ever have to use it in an emergency or if it is faulty.
How to Put Out a Fire With a Fire Extinguisher?
First, take the fire extinguisher and point it at the base of the flame (the source of the fire). If you’re not sure where it is, and you can’t put a blanket over it, just spray the general area.
Second, hold down the nozzle until all of the gas comes out. You’ll want to hold down the nozzle in a time frame that corresponds with the size of the very, to ensure proper coverage.
How to Prevent Electrical Fires from Happening?
You can prevent an electrical fire from happening by:
- Inspecting wires for signs of wear or damage every three months. And replacing them if you find any.
- Remove or disconnect all unnecessary electrical appliances from the wall. This includes things like clocks, lamps, and televisions. These are only necessary when they’re being used. So, make sure to remove them when not in use to prevent an electrical fire from happening in your home.
- Do not overload the power outlet. Turn off lights and appliances that are not in use to prevent causing an electrical fire in your home.
- Do not leave hot appliances or other items near the curtains or blinds as this can cause the fire to happen easily.
- Avoid leaving your clothes irons, hair dryers and other appliances on for extended periods of time when you are not at home. These products can easily lead to an electrical fire when left on for too long.
- Do not use your microwave or dryer for too long. This can cause the electrical fire easily and once that happens you will have to replace them as soon as possible.
What to do After an Electrical Fire?
After you have successfully put out the fire, you’ll want to:
- Call a professional electrician to check the wiring of your home and make sure there are no signs of damage. They will also check your cords and cords in other parts of the house to make sure that they are safe for use.
- Use a damp cloth to extinguish any black spots that may appear after the electrical fire.
- Use a fire blanket to keep your surrounding area safe from heat and flames.
- Scrape up any melted plastic pieces of the appliance or device. This will ensure that you don’t have the fire re-ignited. Scraping the melted plastic is also helpful for removing any toxic metallic particles that may have been present in the fire.
Electrical fires are a common hazard at home, but they can be prevented by following a few simple guidelines. The best way to put out an electrical fire is to shut off the power at the electrical source and put out the flames with a fire extinguisher.
The key to preventing an electrical fire in your home is to keep your appliances, areas near water and other electricity sources clean and free of debris. Do not overload outlets with plugs or appliances. Also, do not leave items that you aren’t using unattended for long periods of time.
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