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The Causes and Dangers of Electrical Fires
By the RestorationSOS Educational Staff
A fire in your home or business is bad enough, but an electrical fire can mean a whole new level of danger as well as difficulty in fighting back. Electrical fires are started by electricity, of course, which means that throwing water on them may not have the desired effect. In fact, it may only serve to make a bad problem worse.
According to FEMA, electrical fires kill an average of 310 people every year and seriously injure 1,100 more. While many of us live with concern over an unexpected short circuit or malfunctioning power outlet, most electrical fires are triggered by incorrectly installed wiring or overloaded extension cords.
What Causes Most Electrical Fires?
December and January are the most dangerous months for electrical fires due to the increased usage of electricity for heating, appliances, and lighting. While the bedroom is the most common source of residential electrical fires, the most deaths occur from those that are ignited in living rooms or family rooms.
Electrical fires can be generated from any number of causes, such as old, worn out wiring, the aforementioned overloaded extension cords, as well as light fixtures, bulbs, and running cords underneath carpeting or area rugs.
How Can I Prevent an Electrical Fire?
There are safety precautions you can take to avoid electrical fires in your home, such as regular inspections of your appliances and wiring to make sure they are still in good condition, replacing any electrical components that are worn out or not functioning properly, keeping clothes, curtains, and other flammable materials at least three feet away from all heaters, and not overloading wall sockets or extension cords.
Proper wiring is also important. If an appliance has a three-pronged plug, do not try to force it into a socket with only two holes. Certainly do not try to use it with an extension cord. If a light switch feels hot to the touch or if the lights flicker unsteadily, you should have them professionally replaced.
Of course, with any potential fire scenario, you should make sure that you fire alarms are in good working order and that you have a planned escape route complete with a meeting place somewhere outside so that you can make sure everybody is accounted for in the event of a blaze.
What Should I Do in the Event of an Electrical Fire?
In case of an electrical fire, call the fire department immediately. If you are able to reach the main breakers, shut off the electricity to the property. Make sure your hands are not wet and the fire is not actually near the breaker box before doing so. However, your personal safety is the priority. Do not attempt to turn off electricity or put out a fire at the risk of endangering yourself.
Use a Class C or ABC all-purpose fire extinguisher to put out a small electrical fire. No other type of extinguisher will work on these types of fires, so if you donít know what kind you have, donít guess. Leave the home and call the fire department.
In any case of fire damage, you should always call in your local, certified fire damage restoration professionals. They have the training, experience, and tools necessary to clean up after the fire and return your home to its pre-loss condition.