Electrical fires are accounted for 6.3% of all residential fires in the United States. Electrical fires are classified as Class C. They can be easily prevented if a few prevention measures are taken and proper electrical codes are maintained.
What are these steps and codes? How to prevent electrical fires?
Electrical fires can be caused by several factors. Such as faulty wiring, overloaded fixtures, bad placement of heaters, etc. So, there are different prevention methods to tackle each issue. Like replacing bad circuitry, using fixtures and extensions responsibly, using GFCI, and AFCI breakers accordingly, and so much more.
Keep reading to know in detail the steps needed to prevent electrical fires. As well as the causes and how you can put out electrical fires.
What Are the Causes of Electrical Fires?
There are several causes when it comes to electrical fires. Starting from device malfunction to human error and negligence.
So, what is the cause of electrical fires? Let’s take a look.
Outdated wiring is one of the major causes of electrical fires. Any house, older than 20 years, should have its’ circuitry rewired.
When such old and fragile wiring is overloaded, it causes major electrical malfunctions, which may lead to electrical fires.
Extension Cord Misuse:
Most homeowners are unaware that there are particular guidelines for using extension cords.
When not utilized properly, extension cables can rapidly overheat and cause electrical fires; also, equipment and appliances plugged into extension cords can become fried after prolonged usage.
The first step to buying an extension cord is to check the cord’s gauge to make sure it complies with your requirements.
Bad Placement of Heaters:
A common electrical appliance in many parts is an electrical heater. Especially during winter, or in cold areas of the world.
But, oftentimes, due to the carelessness of users, they may place it near fabrics. They have the potential to burn fabrics and cause a fire.
Overloaded Fixtures and Outlets:
Overloading an outlet can be a pretty dangerous practice. It causes the circuit to heat up. To a point where it can even melt the plastic.
As many conductive materials are covered in plastic to protect them from other conductive materials, their damage can result in electrical shorts. Which can cause sparks and even fires.
A third prong in the plugs of many appliances are there so that they may run on a higher power. This is the ground prong. They are present for the safety of the appliance and the user. So, it is highly advised against using an improperly grounded circuit.
These are some of the most common causes of electrical fires in households. How do we prevent them? What device helps prevent electrical fires? I will discuss prevention in the next section.
How Can You Prevent Electrical Fires?
There are several preventive methods to employ in order to prevent electrical fires. What are these steps? How to prevent electrical fires? Let’s take a look.
Steps to prevent electrical fires:
- If the wiring in your house is fairly old, you should consult an electrician and have them replaced. This might cost a lot. It is essential for the safety of your home.
- Make sure to use extension cords properly. Do not use them to run appliances with high power demand.
- Place portable heaters away from fabrics and flammable materials. Avoid placing them on carpets.
- Avoid overloading extension cords. Make sure the appliances are low power demand. Such as small fans, chargers, and your computer.
- Make sure any appliance that requires proper grounding, is grounded. Not only can it cause fires, but it can also spell trouble for your appliance.
- Make sure to use proper GFCI and AFCI breakers as per the NEC requirements.
- Do not overload an outlet. Check the outlets’ wattage rating before plugging in any electrical appliance.
- Use a radiator-style heater. They are safer than portable heaters.
- Make sure no electrical component comes in contact with water or moisture.
- Replace any faulty outlets, if you have any.
- Keep any appliances unplugged when not in use.
These are some of the preventive steps you have to take in order to prevent electrical fires.
How to Put Out Electrical Fires Safely?
An electrical fire is very different from a normal fire. You cannot simply pour water on it to put it out.
There are several steps to follow in order to safely put out an electrical fire. I will go through these steps for you.
Turning off the power:
When tackling electrical fires, the first step is to have someone turn off the electricity at the source, while another tackles the fire.
Otherwise, not only is there a huge possibility of electrocution, but also the possibility of creating other electrical hazards down the line.
By melting off plastic from electrical cables and making a short circuit.
Putting Out the Flame:
Electrical fires should never be put out with water. As it increases the possibility of electrocution. Electrical fires should be put out with CO2 fire extinguishers.
However, if the fire is small, a fire blanket should also be able to put it out.
Assessing Damage and Repairs:
After the fire has been put out, open the windows and doors to let the smoke out. Let air circulate in the building. Assess the damage before turning the power back on. If necessary, call a professional to check the circuitry for you. And repair if needed.
These are some of the steps you should take in case of an electrical fire. Electrical fires are hazardous and must be dealt with while maintaining extreme caution.
Electrical fires are a major cause of house fires all over the world. Prevention is always better than cure. Throughout this article, I have gone through the topic of how to prevent electrical fires. I have also gone through the causes of electrical fires and how to put them out.
However, always be on the lookout and maintain all electrical codes throughout your household. Be sure to employ the help of electrical professionals to assess your circuitry if any anomalies arise.