One of the greatest hazards that can occur in any home is a fire and the ignition source could very well be the electricity you use daily. The NFPA estimated that in 2011 over 16,000 home fires reported to fire departments involved an electrical ignition source. These fires resulted in multiple deaths and many injuries, as well as millions of dollars in property damage.
Do you know how to extinguish an electrical fire? What to use and what not to use? When to flee? While it is not suggested that the average homeowner attempt in any capacity to be a firefighter, they should still have the basic knowledge to extinguish a small home fire. The average home is filled to the brim with electrical appliances these days. From our electronic devices, their chargers, lightings and TV’s to the beloved kitchen appliances that make our lives so much easier. Each of these devices requires electricity to power them which can increase the risk of electrical fire in your home.
Now, simply because you have these items in your home does not mean that you will have a home electrical fire. That would be like saying that anyone who drives a vehicle will be in an auto accident, it’s not guaranteed to happen but we should still be prepared for it. Just as one would check fluid levels in a vehicle or drive more cautiously in bad weather, you should be prepared to combat a small fire in your home.
When possible, you may attempt to unplug a device or appliance if you notice it is on fire or sparking. Though this should only be attempted if it will not place you in harm’s way. If you are able to unplug the device you can then use a fire extinguisher or attempt to smother the flames with a rug or blanket. It is important to also know when you should evacuate. If you notice that the fire is spreading despite your attempts to smother it, or if you see smoke coming from another location, you should evacuate immediately.
The first step in preparation is having a fire extinguisher or extinguishers located in easy to access areas of the home. The kitchen tends to be the most ideal location for an extinguisher, especially if someone you love has a habit of using the smoke detector as the dinner bell. Due to the risk of electrical fires the extinguishers you should have on hand are a Type C or Type ABC fire extinguisher. This type of fire extinguisher deprives the fire of oxygen with carbon dioxide or with a dry chemical, as any liquids could cause the fire to spread. An electrical fire should never be put out with water, ever. When you throw water on an electrical fire an electric current could travel along the water stream and electrocute you. Throwing water on an electrical fire could also conduct electricity and help to spread, instead of extinguishing, the fire.
Electrical fires may not all be caused by the devices and appliances in your home. The wiring hidden behind your walls is susceptible to arcing for many reasons. Over time the arcing wires may produce enough heat to ignite the insulation and other flammable materials surrounding them. A fire created by electrical arcing may not be noticed until it is too late, but the installation of arc fault breakers can help prevent this hazard.
Now is the time to protect your home and family from the possible dangers of electrical fires. Fire extinguishers are a necessary tool if an electrical fire does occur in your home. Fire extinguishers can be purchased at any local hardware or discount retail store. To help prevent an electrical fire from occurring, a trained electrician should evaluate your electrical system and repair or protect possible electrical fire hazards.