The breakers frequently trip. An unusual burning smell persists. These situations point to an electrical fire—and a fire of any type should be addressed promptly. When an electrical fire occurs, it is crucial for the home or business owner to extinguish it by following a series of steps.
What are the steps for extinguishing an electrical fire?
Every homeowner and commercial property owner should be aware that throwing water on an electrical fire will not extinguish the flames—but could cause an electrocution. Water conducts electricity, making it possible that anyone nearby will experience a severe electrical shock.
1. Unplug the Device
The flames from an electrical fire should first be controlled by cutting off the electricity to the device from which the fire originated. Unplug the unit if it is safe to do so—this will lessen the chances of the fire spreading.
2. Shut Off Electricity
Disconnect the electricity to the home if unplugging it at the source is impractical. Attempt to access the electrical panel so that the power may be switched off. Without electricity to feed the flames, the home or business owner reduces the risk of electrocution.
3. Use a Fire Extinguisher
Once the source of power is cut off, use a Class C fire extinguisher, which uses dry chemicals (rather than water or foam) to put out the electrical fire. Without an electricity source, the fire transforms into a Class A fire and can be extinguished with standard fire extinguishing tactics.
Residential multipurpose fire extinguishers are labeled as ABC. Still, it is important to verify the right extinguisher is used on an electrical fire. Implement the PASS (pull the pin, aim the nozzle, squeeze the nozzle, and sweep the hose from side to side) technique when dousing the flames.
4. Smother with Baking Soda
A small electrical fire may be suffocated by tossing baking soda over the flames. Sodium bicarbonate is the chemical compound found in baking soda, and this element is used in Class C fire extinguishers. Keeping a box of baking soda nearby is lifesaving if a toaster oven sparks a flame.
5. Use a Fire Blanket
Similarly, small electrical fires may be extinguished with a piece of clothing or heavy blanket. A fire blanket is ideal for putting out small flames, as the fire-retardant material deprives the fire of the oxygen it needs to continue to burn.
What is an electrical fire?
The delicate electrical components of any piece of equipment have the potential to malfunction and spark an electrical fire. Circuit breakers, wires and cables can ignite. When positioned in close proximity to flammable materials, lighting fixtures can lead to an electrical fire.
Overloaded circuits can start a fire in the electrical panels, especially in outdated panels. An inadequate distribution of electricity can cause the panel and circuitry to become dangerously overloaded. Decreasing the chances of an electrical fire requires knowledge of potential causes.
What causes an electrical fire?
A lack of maintenance is essential to preventing an electrical fire. Although electrical systems function on a daily basis, it is unwise to assume operational equipment is not at risk for causing an electrical fire. Any electrical system is at risk for going up in flames.
In fact, poor maintenance of electrical components, like electrical panels and wiring, is the number one cause of electrical fires. Remove visible dirt and dust from electrical panels and other parts of electrical systems. Faulty circuit breakers and frayed wires should be replaced.
Current electrical demands go unmet in the aged wiring often found in older homes and commercial spaces. When the high circuit amperage fails to match the old wiring, the coating around the wiring can melt and lead to an electrical fire.
Similarly, aged appliances inside residential homes and commercial buildings are known causes of electrical fires. The US Fire Administration reports that 19 percent of electrical fires in commercial properties and 13 percent in homes are caused by malfunctioning appliances or equipment failure.
What are signs of an electrical fire?
In order to extinguish an electrical fire, it is important to know the signs. Discolored or charred outlets are evidence that a spark has already damaged the outlet. Consequently, the switches may stop working. Plus, if the outlet plates are hot upon touch, the wires are overheating.
An occasional tripped breaker is no cause for alarm. But breakers that trip repeatedly can mean any of several things: 1) The circuit is overloaded; 2) faulty wiring is causing a short circuit; or 3) ground faults are responsible and put the home at risk for an electrical fire.
A peculiar burning smell that permeates the environment is a likely signal that an electrical fire has broken out somewhere. In such instances, once the source of the odor is located, shut off the power to that area or turn off the electricity until an electrician inspects it.
Professional Fire Damage Restoration
Once the fire is extinguished, fire and smoke damage restoration should immediately begin to protect the structural integrity of the building. Smoke and soot should be cleaned thoroughly to prevent lasting damage. ServiceMaster is ready to tackle the fire damage restoration process.
Our highly experienced technicians arrive soon after your call to start the restoration process. We stabilize the building to prevent collapse, clean soot and smoke using advanced cleaning products, provide content cleaning to soot- and smoke-damaged personal goods, and deodorize the property.
Included in our comprehensive fire and smoke damage restoration service is water damage restoration. ServiceMaster specialists dry out water-damaged materials that undergo ruin by fire hoses. Home and business owners can expect a complete restoration with our one-stop services.
ServiceMaster takes pride in providing speedy smoke and fire damage restoration services to residential homeowners and commercial property owners in Bellevue, Lincoln, Omaha, NE and the surrounding areas. We stand by 365 days of the year to respond to emergency calls.
Contact us when fire damage strikes.