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The Problem With Electrical Fires

Fire damage to your home is one thing, but an electrical fire takes the threat to a whole new level. Far more dangerous than a “normal” fire, electrical fires are also quite resistant to water as an extinguishing agent. In fact, water may actually make the problem even worse.  Electrical fires kill more than 300 people each year, with more than a thousand injured, and are usually triggered by short circuits, malfunctioning power outlets, improper wiring, or overloaded extension cords. Whatever the cause, it is important to know how to handle them when they occur.

While December and January are the most dangerous months for electrical fires due to increased electricity use, they can and do occur year round. All it takes is the right set of circumstance. Most electrical fire deaths occur from those fires ignited in living areas or bedrooms.

The good news is that while fires are not always avoidable, electrical fires almost always are. You should regularly inspect your appliances and electronics and make sure that all connections are solid and that none of the wiring has become frayed.  Worn out wiring and components should be thrown away and replaced with new ones.  You can also keep flammable material at least three feet away from electrical cords and heaters, and do not overload the capacity of wall sockets or extension cords.

Keep your wiring done correctly, making sure that three pronged sockets are only used with three pronged cords, and likewise for two pronged. If lighting switches feel hot to the touch or if the lights flicker erratically, that is a sure sign of an electrical problem. Fire alarms should also be kept in good working order and tested every couple of months, with battery replacement at the six month mark.

If an electrical fire does occur in your home or business, call the fire department immediately. Shut off electricity at the main breakers if you are safely able to reach them. Under no circumstance should you place your personal safety at risk, however.  Make sure that your hands are not wet and tht the fire is not near the breaker box. Class C or all purpose fire extinguishers should be used on electrical fires, since no other type will work in these situations. If you do not know what kind of extinguisher you have, don’t guess. Let the fire department handle things.

Obviously, water is the last thing you should use on an electrical fire. Water is an excellent conductor of electricity, and you would be placing yourself at risk for electrocution or other serious injury, as well as causing the fire to spread and cause additional damage.

Electrical fires and their aftermath should always be handled by a qualified, competent, water and fire damage restoration company.


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