Fires are a common domestic peril. If you live in a small apartment, being aware of the things to do to handle electrical fire when an electrical fire breaks out, could one day save your life. Learning how to contact emergency services or raising an alarm alone may not help. These fires spread quite quickly and require specific kinds of extinguishers. What could save you is the presence of mind and knowledge about the things that will be discussed in the course of this article.
So, let’s begin.
Causes Of An Electrical Fire
Not all electric fires begin with sparks. Sometimes it is just a flickering light and sometimes an unusual odor, like burning insulation. The sad part is that most often people expect fires to begin in the kitchen and from inflammable substances alone.
Around 500 odd deaths occur every year due to a domestic electrical fire. Here are some of the most common causes or triggers of electrical fires.
1. Old wiring cables
Wires too have an expiry date. Most people just assume that wires used while the house was built will stay on perpetually. The wires too will lose their efficiency due to wear and tear and could have breaks or tears in their outer insulation layer. If there’s a power surge, broken insulation could be deadly.
2. Old electrical devices
This is common knowledge. Appliances and devices come with a life span. The older they get, the less efficient they become. Once a mechanical device crosses its expected lifespan, it most certainly should be considered as a fire hazard and replaced immediately.
3. Overloaded circuits
For the past few decades, every circuit inside an appliance or even the main electrical wiring circuits come fitted with a fuse or a circuit breaker to counter dangers of a power surge. However, over time, fuses become weak and sometimes fail completely. The leads to a flow of excess power, overloading the circuit and causing deadly electrical fires.
If you notice constant tripping in your MCB, it is time to get the circuit checked.
What To Do When There Is A Fire?
Never try to extinguish a domestic fire by pouring water all over it. Unless you are absolutely sure about the nature of fire, use methods that extinguish fires by cutting off the oxygen supply. Try to remain calm and follow the steps described below.
1. Locate the source
Unless the fire is large enough that you have to evacuate immediately, try to identify the source of the fire. Your whole building could be saved from another “Grenfell” episode if you locate the fire’s source and put it out. You could save hundreds of lives.
Look for sparks, intense burning odors, and maximum intensity flames. They are often found closer to the actual source.
2. Attempt cutting off power supply
If the fire is caused by a malfunctioning appliance, try to unplug it. If you manage to do that, you can proceed to put out the flames next. Never attempt removing the plug if the wires are wet or if there are inflammable substances in the vicinity. You could electrocute yourself or cause an explosion.
3. Try to extinguish the flames
Most builders mandate that a fire extinguisher be placed in the kitchens within individual units. If you have one, use it. Also, make sure that the extinguisher say’s A-B-C on its body. These are the kind of extinguishers that come handy to put out a wide range of fires.
If you don’t have an extinguisher, use alternate sources. Baking soda can put out small flames. Thick blankets or carpets can cut off oxygen supply and thereby, kill the fire. Alert the security or call the fire brigade yourself.
4. Avert immediate danger & RUN
Putting out the fire doesn’t mean you are out of danger. Inhalation of smoke or fumes can lead to death. Carbon monoxide contained in secondary smoke could kill you due to asphyxiation. Soot or dust from the fire could enter your respiratory system and stop your lungs from functioning which would leave you to suffocate and die.
As soon as you put out flames and kill the source of fire, evacuate with your family. Wait for the fire brigade to arrive to do a sweep to ensure that the place is safe to inhabit.
Stay Informed. Stay Alive
The world is still recovering from the tragic incident where the Grenfell tower went up in flames. Speculations are rife that it happened due to an electrical fire. Sometimes, being well informed and using your presence of mind is what saves you.
Let’s make sure that this information reaches everyone around us. Let not another building burn and take lives with it.