Precautions, such as system updates, are an intelligent method to reduce the danger of electrical fire. However, it is critical to be aware of recommended practices in the event that you are ever confronted with one. Preparing for how to extinguish an electrical fire, even if you lack a fire extinguisher, might be the difference between a small mishap and a catastrophic one.
Prioritize Your Safety
If an electrical fire is spreading rapidly and you are unable to switch off the power, you must prioritize your safety. To guarantee that you have backup in case you are unable to extinguish the fire on your own, contact 911 immediately and inform the dispatcher that it is an electrical fire. Then, before attempting to extinguish the fire on your own, ensure that you have two clear paths to safety. Evacuate quickly if one of those two paths becomes closed or hazardous to approach. It is not worth jeopardizing one’s life.
Disconnect the Power
To begin, turn off the electricity to the fire’s source. If the source is an appliance, unplug it immediately. Unplugging it reduces the possibility of the flames spreading, allowing you to concentrate your efforts on the single source of fire. If you are unable to unplug the source, you must turn off the electricity in your home. If you are able to securely access your electrical panel, immediately switch off the power. Once the electricity has been turned off, you are no longer in risk of electrocution, and the cause of the fire has been extinguished.
Use Baking Soda for Small Electrical Fires
If the fire started in an appliance or an overloaded cable, pour baking soda over the flames after unplugging the power source. Baking soda includes sodium bicarbonate, the same chemical ingredient used in Class C fire extinguishers. Keeping an open box of baking soda on hand might prove to be lifesaving if a small item such as a toaster or crockpot catches fire.
Never Use Water While the Power Is On
While it may be your initial instinct, never use water to extinguish an electrical fire of any magnitude while the power is still on. Because water conducts electricity, tossing water over the flames puts you at danger of being severely electrocuted.
How to Put Out an Electrical Fire Once the Power Is Off
After you’ve turned off the electricity in your home, you’ll have additional alternatives for putting out the fire. If you do not have a fire extinguisher, a fire blanket is an excellent alternative. Fire blankets suffocate the oxygen required for a fire to burn, thus extinguishing it if the fire is small enough. If you don’t have a fire blanket on hand and are satisfied that the electricity has been turned off, you can now use water. Douse the fire with as much water as possible, using a large bucket or even the spray nozzle from your sink.
Prevent Electrical Fires Prior to Their Initiation
Consider an electrical safety assessment if you have any worries about your electrical system in order to avoid the start of an electrical fire.
Electrical fires account for one-third of all home fires. Regrettably, these sorts of fires are frequently difficult to foresee and pinpoint their origin. If you see a fire in your house, the first thing you should do is turn off the power to the affected appliance.
For instance, if a light is plugged in and on fire, unhook it carefully from the wall. Otherwise, cut off the house’s electricity at the electrical panel box. This will disconnect the home’s electrical supply and protect you from electrocution.
If it is a tiny electrical fire, such as one caused by an appliance or a circuit overload, you can extinguish it by sprinkling baking soda on the flames. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, a chemical component included in Class C fire extinguishers. Additionally, keeping an open box of baking soda in the kitchen may be prudent in case a toaster oven or other equipment catches fire.
Avoid using water while the electricity is still on– this may seem like a good idea, but water is a conductor of electricity, and shocking may occur.
Once the power is turned off, you can smother the flames using a fire blanket or extinguisher. If this does not work, you can now use water—provided the electricity has been turned off. The water can be sprayed from a sink or nozzle and used to fill a bucket to extinguish the fire.
Maintain a Fire Extinguisher on Hand to Extinguish an Electrical Fire
Every household should keep a fire extinguisher on hand, as you never know when a fire will begin. Make it a practice to check each year to ensure it is stored in a location where everyone in the family can find it and understands how to use it.
If you are unable to extinguish the fire and can safely make a 911 call from within the residence, do so. If not, carefully exit the house with the family and pets, latch the door, and call from a safe location.
There are various strategies to avoid an electrical fire in your house.
Compliant with AFCI
Among them is having an electrician evaluate the property to determine if it complies with AFCI standards. This is a gadget that can detect electrical risks that conventional circuit breakers may miss and may avert between 50% and 75% of electrical fires!
Avoid overloading electrical outlets and circuits
Utilize the right wattage light bulbs and plug-in gadgets and avoid overloading them. If you find that your dimmer switch is getting hot, you should check the maximum wattage permitted and ensure that you are within the proper range. The maximum quantity that should be plugged in at one time on a 15 amp circuit is 1440 watts.
A Malfunctioning Circuit Breaker Can Result in an Electrical Fire
If the circuit breaker trips frequently or fuses blow, you may have a faulty circuit breaker. Take the time to inspect this area for damage prior to an electrical fire starting.
- Aluminum strands
- Aluminum Conductors
- If your home was constructed between 1965 and 1973, it is likely that it contains a single strand of aluminum wire. This is not desirable. Aluminum wire is linked to copper wire via an improperly sized conductor, which might cause a fire. This may be rectified by rewiring the home in copper or by replacing the copper connections.
Panel of FPE
If your home was constructed between the 1950s and 1980s, it may include an FPE panel. How did you find out? Examine the label for the letters “FPE,” “Federal Pacific Electric Company,” or “Stab-Lok.” Are you able to spot red-tip sharks on the Federal Pacific breakers? If you answered affirmatively, you have an FPE Panel and will need to replace it. Regrettably, it costs around $1500 but is vital to avert fires.
Examine Devices to Avoid Having to Extinguish an Electrical Fire
It is critical to inspect the cables on gadgets to ensure there are no frayed or exposed wires protruding. These can be a fire danger, and you should immediately discontinue use.
Heaters on Wheels
While portable heaters are convenient for keeping us warm in cooler areas of the house, they can present a fire threat if they do not automatically shut off. If yours tips over, you’ll want to ensure that it automatically shuts off. If not, it has the potential to spark a fire.
Recall of Challenger GFCI
Recall of Challenger GFCIs GFCIs are installed in places of the home that are near water, such as the laundry room and kitchen. They are designed to activate in the event of an electrical overload. The Challenger GFCI breaker, on the other hand, does not and hence may create a fire.
How can you determine whether you have it? The word “Challenger” appears on the door or the panel’s inside. On one side, it also contains the words “test” in yellow. On the reverse, the numerals 15 or 20 are printed in white. If you are unsure, contact an electrician to do an inspection.
Cleaning the Dryer’s Lint
Believe it or not, dryer lint can be a safety threat! It is possible for it to become entangled in the dryer and catch fire. One method to avoid this is to do routine maintenance on the dryer vent.
According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), dryer faults cause 15,000 fires each year. Dryer vents are located at the rear of the dryer and can get blocked with lint or nests. As a result, the clothing are unable to dry and a fire is started.
Smoke detectors and a plan for evacuation
Each room in the house should have a smoke detector, which should be tested at least once a year. Additionally, it is critical to develop an escape plan with your family in the event of a fire. Three out of every five house fire fatalities occurred in homes without a smoke alarm.
Smoke alarms save lives; thus, ensure that yours is functioning correctly!
After the Fire
Following the fire, call your insurance carrier to arrange for an inspection of the damage. Additionally, employ a professional inspection firm to verify that the home is safe to live in.
Ventilating the home is the first step in ensuring that smoke-filled air can escape. Due to the fact that smoke damages the home, you will also need to replace the filter, clean the kitchen and clothing, and wipe the walls, furniture, and floors with a gentle detergent.
Assure that the walls are entirely dry after being doused with water. You do not want mold to form on them or on the neighboring carpet. If you detect a musty odor or observe mold, you must put on gloves and a mask and take care of the situation if it is a 33-square-foot or less room.
You can use vinegar and baking soda, an antifungal cleanser, or bleach—but bleach should be used sparingly. Mold removal is critical because the spores can spread throughout the home and create health problems.
When Should You Consult a Professional
Electrical fires are extremely dangerous and have the potential to ruin homes and lives. It is critical to ensure the safety of your house. If you want an electrical study performed and parts of your house inspected, contact a professional. Don’t feel as though you have to go it alone; there are others who can assist you.