Whether due to faulty wiring, damage or degradation over time, electrical fires are more common than you may think. While typical fires can be hazardous to individuals and destroy properties, electric fires can carry even more risk in many circumstances. So should an electrical fire occur, what are the best ways to put out the fire quickly and effectively? Here are some of the steps you should follow to safely and quickly put out an electrical fire before it becomes life-threatening.
Unplug or power off electricity where possible
Whether residential, commercial, or industrial, the first step to managing an electrical fire is to turn off the electricity whenever possible. If an appliance or machine is the source of a small fire, and you can unplug it immediately, this should be carried out as quickly as possible. If the fire has spread, disconnecting electricity from the area or property altogether is recommended.
Why disconnect electricity before anything else? Because this removes the source of the fire, and also reduces the secondary risk of electrocution. If you’re able to fill the power, you can then use water to put out the fire, as no electricity can be conducted. However, in any other case where removal of power isn’t possible, any of the following methods are recommended:
Smother with baking soda
For small household electrical fires, baking soda is the best way to quickly and easily smother the flames. Baking soda works to block oxygen, which means the fire is not being fed. If you’re unable to turn off the power before using this method, ensure you don’t touch the appliance or machine in the process of putting out the fire.
Use a fire blanket or heavy item of clothing to put out small fires
Fire blankets are suited for small fires, but if one is not on hand, a dense blanket or item of clothing will work. These also smother the flames, but it’s essential to be precise when using any materials – the wrong move could fan flames, making the problem worse.
Spray the source of fire with a Class C fire extinguisher
Electrical fires are defined as class C fires, which means that a class C fire extinguisher is the suitable choice to use in the event a fire occurs. Instructions for a specific extinguisher will be on the canister, so it’s important to read these carefully before starting. ABC fire extinguishers are also suitable for this purpose.
If in doubt, call for emergency support
If you’re unable to or don’t feel that you can safely put out an electrical fire, the first thing to do is call for emergency support. Firefighters are equipped with the skills and equipment to swiftly and safely put out fires. If possible, disconnect the electricity before they arrive if it is safe to do so. If not, evacuate the area immediately.
Depending on the circumstances, the best way to deal with an electrical fire can vary from situation to situation. If in doubt, the best thing to do is call the professionals – but if you feel you can handle it yourself, any of the above methods are suitable if carried out according to instructions. Above all, stay safe and remove the power source first in all instances, if at all possible.