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Electrical Fires: How They Start, Common Causes and Prevention

An electrical fire is a type of fire resulting from an electrical malfunction. Being able to recognise an electrical fire is crucial for maintaining home safety.

When it happens, consulting a qualified electrical service provider is the safest course of action.

In this blog, we’ll discuss how electrical fires start, the common causes, and how to prevent them.

How Do Electrical Fires Start?

Electrical fires start when an electrical fault manifests in systems or appliances, which can lead to dangerous situations. Identifying and rectifying these issues promptly is essential to prevent potential hazards.

Regular inspections by qualified professionals can significantly reduce the risk of such fires.

3 Most Common Causes of Electrical Fires

The 3 most common causes of electrical fires are faulty outlets, overloaded circuits, and improper wiring. Let’s take a closer look at each one below.                           

Faulty Outlets

Electrical fires often originate from outlets that are outdated or damaged. Appliances drawing power from these compromised points can overheat, creating a significant fire risk.

Electrical Fires How They Start Common Causes and Prevention

Overloaded Circuits

Circuits become overloaded when too many connected devices exceed their safe capacity. This can lead to overheating and potentially start a fire.

Improper Wiring

Incorrectly installed or aged wiring, including the presence of frayed wires, is a leading cause of electrical fires. Such wiring can short-circuit, igniting surrounding materials.

How Can I Prevent Electrical Fires?

You can prevent electrical fires by doing the following:

  • Regularly check and maintain electrical appliances and cords, ensuring they are in good condition and free from damage.
  • Avoiding overloading power outlets and circuits by distributing electrical devices wisely and not overusing extension leads.
  • Having a licenced electrician conduct periodic inspections of your home’s electrical system, especially if it’s older, to identify and rectify any potential hazards.

How Do I Put Out an Electrical Fire?

You can put out an electrical fire by cutting off power, using a fire extinguisher, and applying baking soda.

Cut Off Power

The first step in addressing an electrical fire is to shut off the power source immediately. This can be done by unplugging the appliance involved or turning off the main power supply at the circuit breaker. Cutting off the electricity stops the current flow, helping prevent the fire from growing.

Use a Fire Extinguisher

It’s crucial to use a Class C fire extinguisher for electrical fires, which is suitable for fires involving electrical equipment. Avoid using water, as it conducts electricity and can lead to electrocution. Always aim the extinguisher at the base of the fire and sweep side to side.

Apply Baking Soda

In the case of a small and contained fire, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) can be an effective solution. It’s a Class C fire extinguisher component that can help smother the flames. However, this method should only be used for minor fires and if a suitable fire extinguisher is not immediately available.