You will be surprised to know that over 1,100 electrical fires are caused each year as per the data released by the New Zealand Fire Service.
Electrical fires are more common than you think, and the causes behind electrical fires surround us everywhere, whether we are at work or at home. Therefore, it is important to understand a few common principles about electrical fires to stay prepared in case you ever encounter it.
Many Things Can Potentially Cause Electrical Fire
There are tons of things that can trigger electrical fires; surprisingly, it is primarily everyday items or activities that cause it. This includes –
- Old Appliances
- Portable Heaters
- Damaged Power Cords
- Short Circuit
- Overcharged/Overheated Devices
- Faulty Wiring
- Exposed Wiring
Don’t Use Water
One of the first rules of electrical fires is not to use water. This is because water is a good conductor of electricity, allowing it to travel and possibly cause electrocution. Using water around faulty wiring or damaged power cords can be life-threatening and highly dangerous.
As the water conducts electricity, it can potentially spread the fire ignition, increasing the chances of triggering an electrical fire or spreading it.
So, if the fire is caused due to electricity and continues to power it, make sure never to use a water-based fire extinguisher.
Cut Off the Power Source Immediately
When an electrical item catches fire, the first thing to do is to cut off the power supply. Unplug the power cord and shut off the power as soon as you notice smoke coming out of the electrical appliance or if it catches fire.
Even if cutting off the power supply isn’t sufficient to kill the fire, it’s essential to cut off the power supply. However, take proper precautions while doing it; it must be done only if it can be safely done. Why cutting off power is important? It is because as long as there’s an electrical supply, the source of ignition would remain active.
If the power source is still connected, it would be difficult to put the fire out, or it would continue to reignite.
Using The Right Fire-Suppressant
It is important to understand that not all fire suppressants are conducive to killing electrical fires. If you have a fire extinguisher at work or home, make sure it has the Label Class E, such as a carbon dioxide extinguisher. It would mean that the fire extinguisher uses an electrically non-conductive agent that’s instrumental in putting out electrical fires.
Most Electrical Fires Can Be Prevented
In most cases, the electrical fires are triggered due to damaged or exposed power cords, damaged, or worn-off electrical wiring, incorrectly charged electrical appliances/devices, and overloaded outlets. Such mishaps can be easily avoided.
It is important to periodically check wiring and power cords for any signs of exposed, twisted, or frayed wires. It is also important to check power strips and power outlets to ensure they aren’t overloaded.
In case you’re using power strips, it’s important to include internal circuit breakers that help reduce the risks of electrical fires and electrical accidents.
Steps To Take to Prevent Electrical Fires
If you want to avoid electrical fires, reviewing your home or workplace for any signs of electrical hazards is essential. Most of the time, these signs are easily detected and corrected.
At times, preventive steps are not enough, which makes keeping a proper fire extinguisher handy at home and the workplace for use during emergencies so critical. The bottom line is to understand the importance of a periodical review of your space for any signs of electrical hazards while staying prepared in case of an electrical fire.
Conducting safety drills at a workplace for fires and ensuring you have the correct extinguisher type handy and understand the different classes of fire is of paramount importance, ensuring the fire can be controlled and extinguished as soon as it occurs.