How to Put Out an Electrical Fire: Tips for Homeowners
Electrical fires cause significant damage and destruction to homes. Some even result in loss of life. Knowing how to put out and prevent fires in the home is especially important.
Electricity powers almost every device and appliance that we use. We use it so much that we forget how dangerous it can be. However, electrical fires account for about 51,000 house fires in the United States each year. Preventing such a tragedy starts with ensuring that you hire experienced electrical contractors to inspect, upgrade, and maintain your electrical system. It’s also important that you and every member of your household know how to put out an electrical fire.
WHAT TO DO IN THE EVENT OF AN ELECTRICAL FIRE
Knowing what to do can determine whether your home sustains minor damage or you have a catastrophe on your hands. One key thing to note is that you should never use water on an electrical fire. Water conducts electricity so it puts you in danger of electrocution and may also cause the fire to spread to other flammable materials. Let’s go through the key steps of how to put out an electrical fire.
Disconnect the Electricity
Try to disconnect the electricity from the source of the fire. If an appliance or tool is on fire, unplug it immediately if you can do so safely. That way, you’ll only need to focus on extinguishing the appliance. If you can’t unplug the device, you should turn off the power to your home via the electrical panel. Disconnecting the electricity removes the risk of electrocution and cuts off the source of the fire.
Use the Appropriate Fire Extinguisher
You need to make sure you have the right fire extinguisher for electrical fires. Electrical fires are Class C fires, so you need a Class C extinguisher or a multipurpose residential extinguisher with an ABC label. Make sure you know what type of extinguisher you have before you use it.
Cover the Fire with Baking Soda
You may be wondering about how to put out an electrical fire without a fire extinguisher. If a small electrical fire breaks out in your home and you don’t have a fire extinguisher, you can use baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). If an extension cord or small appliance starts to burn, apply baking soda directly to the fire. Sodium bicarbonate is found in Class C fire extinguishers so the idea isn’t as far-fetched as it may seem.
Smother the Fire with a Heavy Blanket
Fires need oxygen to burn. If you don’t have a fire extinguisher, place a heavy blanket on the blaze to deprive it of oxygen. It’s important to make sure that the blanket covers the flames so resist the urge to throw it or toss it. The blanket must be larger than the fire for this method to work.
Get Out If You Can’t Put Out the Fire
If you don’t have anything you can use to extinguish the fire or the blaze is too large, leave as soon as you can to prevent anyone from getting hurt. Close the door to the room in which the fire started to help contain the blaze. As soon as you are in a safe location, call 911 and remain outside until fire officers give you the all-clear.
It is, of course, important to know how to put out an electrical fire. However, it is just as important to know how to prevent them from occurring.
HOW TO PREVENT AN ELECTRICAL FIRE
There are several things you should do to protect your electrical system. To reduce the risk of fire, you should:
- Use extension cords and power strips wisely. These can be useful, but you need to remember that they have limits. Be sure to use only those devices that are independently tested and never overload them with high wattage devices like hair straighteners, toaster ovens, or refrigerators.
- Prevent power cords from getting damaged. Try not to let the cords on your electronics kink or get pinched. Otherwise, the insulation could tear and lead to short circuits and sparks. You should also ensure that you unplug devices by holding the plug and not the cord. Whenever your cords get frayed or otherwise damaged, you should replace them. Otherwise, an electrical fire could occur.
- Unplug appliances when you aren’t using them. It may be inconvenient to unplug all non-essential appliances when you’re done using them, but this prevents them from overheating and starting a fire.
- Upgrade your electrical system if it’s outdated. Old systems are one of the main electrical fire causes. However, modern wiring materials and increased capacity significantly reduce the likelihood of an electrical fire happening. If your home is 40 years old or more and the system hasn’t been updated, you should make it a priority.
- Hire licensed electricians. You may have a friend who swears they’re an expert in all things electrical. However, if they don’t have a license, you shouldn’t let them work on your home. While you may pay less, it could cost you more in the long run. Always hire someone who has the knowledge, tools, and material for the job.
LET PROLECTRIC ELECTRIC SERVICES HELP YOU TO KEEP YOUR HOME SAFE
You now have more information on how to put out an electrical fire and how to prevent one from occurring in the first place. If you need a professional inspection of your home, reach out to the team at Prolectric, and we’ll make sure your system is safe and fit for purpose.