Although it’s unpleasant to imagine, an appliance can suddenly ignite in anyone’s home. To prevent damage from the fire and injury while trying to put it out, it’s critical to learn about the proper ways to extinguish an electrical fire well in advance. Read on if you want to learn more about how to put out an electrical fire.
WHAT NOT TO DO
First of all, NEVER attempt to extinguish an electrical fire with water. Water conducts electricity, so throwing water on an electrical fire can result in two terrible possibilities:
The water might allow the electrical current to spread to other flammable surfaces, worsening the fire.
You might get electrocuted.
It’s important to abandon a fire that is out of control, no matter what type it is. If a fire is too large for you to contain, close the door of the room where the fire is to prevent it from spreading quickly, get everyone in the building to evacuate, and then once you’re outside, call 911.
CORRECT WAYS TO PUT OUT AN ELECTRICAL FIRE
If an appliance fire is small enough to contain, try to unplug it, if possible. Next, try to extinguish the fire by doing one of the following.
1. Use a fire extinguisher.
You should use a multipurpose fire extinguisher with C in its label. The C means that the extinguisher is equipped to handle Class C fires. According to the Fire Equipment Manufacturers’ Association, Class C fires are “fires involving energized electrical equipment such as computers, servers, motors, transformers, and appliances”--essentially, electrical fires.
The acronym PASS is a simple way to remember how to use a fire extinguisher.
P - Pull the pin.
A - Aim the hose or nozzle at the base of the fire. Make sure you’re standing back at the recommended safe distance.
S - Squeeze the operating level. This acts as the trigger that’s going to release the fire extinguishing agent.
S - Sweep the hose or nozzle from side to side to put the fire out. As the fire starts to go away, you can move in closer. Just be cautious in case the fire reignites.
It’s wise to equip your home with one of these fire extinguishers on each floor. Remember to inspect them regularly and replace them when they expire.
2. Use baking soda.
Is there anything baking soda can’t fix? Baking soda contains sodium bicarbonate, an ingredient in Class C fire extinguishers. If a small appliance (like a toaster) catches on fire, you can put it out by smothering the flames with this kitchen staple.
3. Use a heavy blanket.
Without oxygen, the fire can’t burn. If you don’t have a fire extinguisher handy, you can use a heavy blanket to smother the fire via oxygen deprivation. A couple of important notes:
Do NOT throw or toss the blanket over the fire. The whole blanket needs to cover the flames, and if you throw the blanket, you might miss it.
This method won’t work if the fire is bigger than the blanket.
HOW TO AVOID ELECTRICAL FIRES
While we generally expect to get some good use out of our appliances, none of them will last forever. Check your appliances for damaged or melted cords or other signs of damage or extreme heat. Damaged cords are the most common cause of appliance fires, so don’t postpone a repair or replacement. Below we list some tips and tricks to help you and your family avoid electrical fires from happening in the first place.
- Always make sure that your appliances are unplugged when you are not using them: This is important for preventing overheating. Whenever you or your family are not using certain appliances, it is always best to unplug them (even if they are appliances that people typically think is alright to leave plugged in, such as the kitchen for example).
- Update your home's electrical system: It is always wise to upgrade to a home electrical system that uses the latest and most modern wiring materials - such as copper. This is important for preventing electrical fires because material such as copper can tremendously reduce the chances of an electrical fire happening. Did you know that updating your home's electrical system can also help decrease your insurance costs? Contact us to learn more about what we can do to help.
- Always use extension cords temporarily: A lot of people don't know that extension cords are really meant to be used temporarily. Using extension cords for a prolonged period of time can increase your chances of starting an electrical fire because extension cords are not meant to be used for long periods. If you need to install a permanent power source in your home, contact us and we can help get that set up for you so, safely.