What To Do If An Electrical Appliance Catches Fire
No doubt, electrical fires can be terrifying. Not only are they life-threatening, but they can also cause a great deal of damage to your home. Fires cost the United States billions of dollars every year in property damage.
If you find yourself in a situation where one of your home appliances bursts into flames, try your best not to take fright. Continue reading below to learn exactly what to do to keep your family and home safe from electrical fires.
What Are The Main Causes of Appliance Fires?
If you want to improve the fire safety plan of your home or business, it’s vital you know the primary causes of appliances bursting into flames.
Faulty Outlets/Old Appliances
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, faulty outlets are among the most common causes of appliance combustion. If an appliance has a damaged wire, it can transmit heat onto flammable items, such as curtains, paper, or a carpet.
Space Heater Location
Although space heaters are an excellent way to stay warm as the temperature drops, they can quickly become a fire hazard if placed in the wrong spot. If possible, try not to put your space heater near any curtains, carpets, furniture, or bedding.
It may not have the wiring system to handle modern electrical needs if you live in an older home. With several appliances plugged in and operating at once, the old wiring could cause your breaker to overload and combust.
How to Extinguish an Electrical Fire
If you find yourself facing an electrical fire, always put your and your family’s safety first. While you can try your best to extinguish the flames, it’s best to call 911 and try to evacuate the home as quickly and safely as possible until emergency services arrive.
Here are some ways to extinguish an electrical fire safely:
Disconnect the Source
The first thing you want to do is disconnect the appliance’s power source. If you can unplug the device, that should tremendously prevent the flames from spreading to other areas of the room. In the case where disconnecting the appliances isn’t possible, you can also shut down your home’s power supply.
Cover the Flames in Baking Soda
If the electrical fire is relatively small, you can try and cover the flames with baking soda. Baking soda contains sodium bicarbonate, which is a primary ingredient in Class C fire extinguishers. It helps to have a box of baking soda somewhere in your kitchen at all times in case one of your appliances suddenly combusts.
Use a Blanket
Like baking soda, blankets could potentially extinguish a small electrical flame. You can cover the fire with a blanket or towel to cut off its oxygen supply. However, it probably won’t work if the flame is larger than the blanket.
Refrain From Using Water
While it may feel instinctual to grab a glass of water and throw it into the flames, avoid doing so at all costs. Water conducts electricity, so you may end up electrocuting yourself or those around you.
Preventing Electrical Fires
Although appliance fires can wreak havoc on your property, they’re surprisingly easy to prevent. Here are a few things you can do to prevent one of your appliances from bursting into flames:
- Keep Heated Appliances Unplugged. You should unplug any device that produces heat if you aren’t using it. If left plugged in, these appliances can overheat and potentially start a fire. Some devices to unplug are kettles, toasters, space heaters, and curling wands.
- Reduce Extension Cord Usage. Extension cords should only be used as a temporary solution. If your home needs new power sources, it’s safer to call a technician and have them install them.
- Upgrade Your Home’s Electrical Systems. Above, we mention that outdated wiring can cause electrical fires. It’s best to keep your electrical systems up-to-date to keep you and your family safe, especially if you live in an older home.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Chances of an Electrical Fire?
This is entirely dependent on how proactive you have been to minimize risk. Faulty electrical outlets or worn-out wires, among other things, increase the risk of an electrical fire.
Can Phone Wires Cause a Fire?
Yes. If the wire has become exposed over time, it can overheat or short-circuit, resulting in a fire.
How Fast do Electrical Fires Start?
A house can go up in flames in as little as three minutes. Electrical fires start alarmingly quickly.
Can You Smell Electrical Fire?
Yes. Electrical fires have a distinctly acrid scent, very similar to the smell of burning plastic.
Can an Electrical Fire Start if Nothing is Plugged In?
Yes. Even when unplugged, an outlet can overheat and cause a fire. However, the risk is significantly reduced.
We rely on our appliances to perform the tasks we need in our daily lives. However, they can quickly become a major liability if you aren’t careful. Follow the tips above to prevent and protect your home from appliance fires.
Here at All Dry, we have extensive experience repairing fire and water damage. If your home has experienced fire damage, feel free to contact our team to learn more about our fire restoration services.