It goes without saying that electricity makes our lives easy, convenient, comfortable and fun. It powers our air conditioners, fridge, gaming consoles, oven, washing machines – and more. But it must never be taken for granted or underrated. Poor wiring or a faulty outlet or appliance can give us a zap, water + electricity most certainly do not mix, circuits overload and overheat – and an electrical fire is one of the most serious emergencies imaginable. So ask yourself this: Do you REALLY know what to do in an electrical emergency?
What to do in case of electrical fire
One of the most critical electrical emergencies is an electrical fire – and did you know they account for a decent chunk (about 10%) of all residential fires in Queensland? We’re mentioning this electrical emergency above all others because it can never be repeated enough that you can NEVER try to put out an electrical fire with water. Why not? Because electricity flows so well through the dissolved salts and metals in water, putting water on an electrical fire is one of the most efficient ways to electrocute yourself. And yet, it’s surprisingly easy for one to start via:
- Faulty outlets
- Faulty appliances
- Overheating cords
- Grounding faults
- Lighting fixtures
- Bad wiring & more.
Do you know what to do if you find yourself facing an electrical fire?
1. Call 000
Tell them straight away that you’re dealing with an electrical fire, and they will expedite their reaction and tell you the next urgent steps.
2. Turn off the power
If it’s safe to do so, turn off the power at the mains so that the electrical fire is no longer ‘live’.
3. Put it out
Only if the fire is small and manageable, you can try throwing bi-carb on the fire so that the emitted C02 puts it out. If you have a flame-retardant blanket, you can try to starve the fire of oxygen that way.
4. Use a CO2 fire extinguisher
You cannot use a regular extinguisher because of the water content, so only ever use a CO2 or dry powder (ABC) extinguisher.
What to do in other electrical emergencies
The other big electrical emergency you may face at home can actually be more serious than an electrical fire – because we’re talking about a ‘zap’. If someone has had a zap, it means an electric current has entered their body and instantly spread to just about every cell – because the human body, remember, is over 50% water. The leading causes of electrical shock are faulty appliances, frayed wires, bad wiring and the mixing of electricity + water. An electric shock becomes ‘electrocution’ when the shock is so severe that the person loses consciousness. The victim may also:
- Having difficulty breathing
- Not breathing at all
- Weak or erratic pulse
- Burns (especially at the shock site and exit-point)
- Cardiac arrest.
If you suspect someone has just received an electric shock, here’s what to do:
1. DO NOT touch
It’s tempting to immediately administer help, but simply touching them exposes you to the risk of electrocution too.
2. Clear the area
Make sure you, your children and your pets are cleared out of the area.
3. Turn off the power
Ensure the situation doesn’t get any worse by turning off the electricity at the mains.
4. Call 000
As a rule, electrical shock and subsequent burns must be treated by trained and experienced professionals – so leave it to them. If the need to treat burns is extreme, ensure the power is off and use large amounts of cold fresh water.
5. Isolate the patient
However, if the patient is in a dangerous position, only try to move them with non-conductive materials – like a wooden broom handle. Just make sure it’s dry! If you’re sure it’s safe to touch them, remove any jewellery or clothing that is near the burn sites. If you intend to dress the wounds, make sure it’s not sticky or fluffy.
6. Keep them calm
Reassure the patient that help is en route – and although you may be well-intentioned, make sure you don’t put yourself in harm’s way in the process.
Prevent electrical emergencies with our help
To minimise your chances of an electrical emergency, Your Electrical Expert can help! We are among the most trusted Brisbane & Gold Coast electricians with a renowned 24/7 emergency electrical service – and we know every nook and cranny of your electrical system, fixtures, outlets and appliances. Avoid an electrical nightmare by asking Your Electrical Expert to inspect, service, repair or enhance your electrical systems, and benefit from our 100% lifetime workmanship guarantee. Get in touch with the friendly local electrical team today!