Electrical fires tend to be something that most people aren’t prepared for but should be. After all, electrical fires account for well over half of both home and workplace fire-related accidents annually. As such, it’s important to know what the best practices are when faced with one and how to put it out. Knowing what to use, when to use it, and how to use it could be the difference between a minor accident and a major catastrophe.
As is the case with any fire, if you’re not able to be safe, get out of the area and put your safety first. Things can be replaced – you, however – cannot. Once you’ve removed yourself from the situation, call 911 immediately and let the dispatcher know that the fire is electrical in nature.
If you do decide to stay and fight the fire – make sure you can see two distinctly clear pathways to safety. If at any time one of those pathways becomes impassable or blocked – leave through the other route immediately. Do not jeopardize your life.
Disconnect The Electricity
The first thing you’re going to want to do is to make sure you disconnect the electricity if there’s a fire. After all, electricity is the source of the fire itself. Unplugging from the electrical system will reduce the risk of flames spreading and you can focus on one, single source as you fight the fire.
If you can do so safely, try to head to your electrical panel and turn off the power immediately. This will present further spread. Also, once the electricity is off, you are no longer at risk of being electrocuted.
Baking Soda Is Your Friend
The best flame retardant during an electrical fire is baking soda. Once you see a small fire start, throw baking soda on the flames. It contains a chemical called sodium bicarbonate – which believe it or not – is found in many class-C fire extinguishers. Keep a box in and around your kitchen area as you never know when you’ll have to use it.
DO NOT Use Water When The Power Is On
Often, our first impulse is to use water to extinguish a fire. With an electrical fire – this is a big ‘no-no’ if the power is still on. Water is a conductor and could result in you being electrocuted and seriously hurt. Only use water AFTER you have disconnected the device or shut off the power.
Once the Power Is Off
Turning the power off is important because it increases your options when it comes to fighting the fire. Using fire blankets if you don’t have an extinguisher. If you don’t have a blanket and the power is off, now you can use water. Simply douse the fire with enough water until the fire is out.
And of course – the best thing you can do to fight electrical fires is to get your equipment regularly inspected and avoid the problems that lead to electrical fires altogether. Consider a safety inspection if you have concerns about your electrical system.
If you have questions on this or any other topic, please call Protegis Fire & Safety.