Knowing how to practice electrical safety is an important skill for anybody to have. Of course, preventative and precautious measures are your number one line of defence when it comes to avoiding an electrical mishap.
With that being said, accidents do happen and every year there are tens of thousands of electrical fires that take place across the country. Surely not intentional, these accidental fires can have devastating effects if the you are not equipped on how to put out an electrical fire quickly.
In order to leave you feeling prepared, you need to know how to put out an electrical fire if one happens to break out:
1. Pay attention to the warning signs
As stated above, the most important part of fire safety is knowing how to identify suspicious warning signs when they do arise. The following indications should always be cause for concern and further investigation: circuit breakers that repeatedly trip, shocks or tingling feelings as you touch an electrical appliance, and flickering lights.
Discolored electrical wall outlets or any hint of a burning smell that arises from wiring, a plug, or appliance should also be cause for concern. To minimize these possible warning signs from happening in the first place, perform a maintenance check on your electrical cabinet cooling systems and have them replaced when necessary.
2. Take pre-emptive action
If you notice any of these signs, act quickly and put out an electrical fire before things have a chance to escalate. The number one thing to do is to immediately unplug any appliance that is showing signs of concern and cut the power at the electrical panel.
3. Baking soda to extinguish a small electrical fire
In the event that the warning signs appeared too late and a fire has already broken out, assuming it is small and contained, baking soda could do the trick. This is an appropriate course of action if, for example, an extension cord has begun to smolder.
Although baking soda might seem like a strange solution, it contains sodium bicarbonate, which just happens to be the substance contained in Class C fire extinguishers. These are the most effective treatment for electrical fires so often a douse of baking soda will do the trick. Baking soda also produces water, which will help to effectively cool and smother a small fire.
4. Never use water on its own
The fact that baking soda produces water is desirable, but water should never be used just by itself. Never forget that water conducts electricity and that applying it directly to an electrical fire could result in a nasty shock. For most people, the natural impulse is to reach for water when they see a fire, so it is imperative that you keep a cool head and proceed with caution. Assess the source of the fire and proceed accordingly.
5. Reach for a Class C Fire Extinguisher
It is never a bad idea to keep a fire extinguisher on hand in order to quickly and efficiently deal with any electrical fire that might arise. Ideally, an extinguisher will be used to put out fires that originate around wiring, outlets, appliances and circuit breakers.
6. Steps for using a fire extinguisher
Once you have your fire extinguisher out a ready, you should proceed by pulling the pin located the top of the level while you hold the extinguisher in an upright position. Now aim the nozzle of the extinguisher directly at the fire, attempting to pinpoint the place of origin if at all possible.
Squeeze down on the level of the extinguisher and completely cover the burning area with the extinguishing substance. You might have to move closer to the fire, but be extremely careful as fires can be unpredictable. Remember that a fire extinguisher is capable of a longer trajectory than you might think.
7. Turn off power at the source
Another key step in fighting an electrical fire is to turn off the power at the electrical panel. This will prevent the fire from growing and becoming more dangerous. Always proceed with caution when interacting with any other components of the electrical circuit and ensure to be on alert for any of the warning signs mentioned previously.
8. Don’t hesitate to call for help
Remember that, if at any point you feel unsafe, you shouldn’t hesitate to call for help. Even if you think you have things under control, or that you’ll be able to extinguish the fire yourself, your local fire crew would prefer that you exercise the “better safe than sorry” rule. It never makes sense to play the hero, when a trained professional is on hand to help you. Remember that things are easily replaced and they are never worth putting yourself in unnecessary danger.
9. Always remember to follow-up
Following any fire occurrence, be sure to follow-up by having a trained professional make a visit. They will be able to identify and repair the source of the electrical fire, once again making your place a safe haven from electrical fires.