The Ultimate Electricity Safety Checklist During & After A Catastrophe

Electrical fires stem from overheating, malfunctioning, or damaged electrical components. These devastating incidents pose significant risks to residential, commercial, and industrial settings. 

In the US, they have caused around 295 fatalities, 900 injuries, and over $1.2 billion in property losses for homes and $501 million for non-residential structures. In the European Union, they account for 25-30% of fires, resulting in approximately 1,200 deaths and €10 billion in property damage.

Residential electrician services ensure the safety of your home and family by providing expertise in preventing and addressing electrical fires.

The Basics of Electrical Risks and Safety

Common Causes

Electrical fires can cause devastating damage and threaten lives and properties. Let’s explore the potential causes of electrical fires below.

  • Damaged Wiring: Worn, frayed, or loose electrical wires can overheat and pose fire risks.
  • Malfunctioning Appliances: Faulty or poorly maintained electrical appliances, including cords and heating/cooling units.
  • Overloaded Circuits: Connecting too many devices to one circuit can strain it and increase the risk of hazards.
  • Improperly Installed Extension Cords and Power Strips: Incorrectly used extension cords and power strips can cause overheating and potential fire hazards.
  • Faulty Switches and Outlets: Loose connections, damaged components, and incorrect wiring in outlets and switches can lead to overheating and fire risks.
  • Defective Lighting Fixtures: Faulty bulbs and fixtures can emit excess heat, posing fire dangers.
  • Proximity to Heat Sources: Placing faulty electrical equipment near combustible materials increases the risk of fires.
  • Malfunctioning Electrical Systems: Short circuits, electrical arcs, and other faults in electrical systems can create hazardous situations.

Warning Signs

Understanding the telltale signs of electrical fires is important for ensuring personal safety and preventing potential hazards. Check these out:

  • The smell of melting plastic, rubber, or wiring indicates a potential electrical fire.
  • Visible or faint smoke from electrical appliances, outlets, or wiring signals a fire hazard.
  • Visible sparks from outlets, switches, or appliances suggest an impending electrical fire.
  • Scorch marks or discolouration on outlets or switches suggest overheating and potential fire damage.
  • Hot switch plates or outlets indicate potential electrical problems and fire hazards.
  • Frequent flickering of lights, accompanied by a burning smell, points to electrical fire hazards.
  • Frequent tripping or blowing of circuit breakers due to excessive current flow can lead to electrical fires if not addressed promptly.

Safety Electrical Tips During a Storm

Weather ConditionWhat to Do
LightningUnplug all electrical appliances at the first sound of thunder to prevent damage.Avoid contact with water or electrical equipment connected to the circuit during lightning storms.
FloodsElevate electrical appliances if floodwater threatens and unplug them.Have a professional electrician inspect any devices that come into contact with water before use.
Strong WindsAvoid touching or moving damaged power lines; only licensed professionals should handle them.If you encounter someone electrocuted by a power line, call 911 and stay at least ten feet away without touching them.

Pre-storm electrical safety plan:

What to Do During an Electric Fire?

  1. Ensure Personal Safety

Stay calm and prioritize your safety and that of others nearby. Immediately warn everyone in the vicinity about the fire.

  1. Cut off the Power

Turn off the electrical supply to the affected area or appliance if it’s safe, as this can help prevent the fire from spreading.

  1. Evacuate the Area

If the fire is spreading rapidly or you cannot control it, evacuate the area immediately. Alert others nearby and ensure everyone exits safely.

  1. Call Emergency Services

Dial the emergency services number to report the fire. Provide details about the location and nature of the fire.

  1. Use a Fire Extinguisher (if trained)

If you know how to use a fire extinguisher and it’s safe, attempt to extinguish the fire. Before extinguishing the fire, wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Target the extinguisher at the bottom of the flames and move horizontally.

  1. Do Not Use Water

Do not use water to extinguish an electrical fire; it can conduct electricity and worsen the situation. 

  1. Do Not Touch the Fire

Never attempt to touch or handle electrical fires with bare hands. Stay away from the flames to avoid injury.

Suppress the fire through the following methods:

  • Utilize a Class C fire extinguisher specifically designed for electrical fires.
  • Employ a non-combustible blanket to suffocate the flames.
  • Apply sand or baking soda, which is suitable for tackling small household fires.

To-dos After Disaster 

Power Off

Turn off appliances and disconnect power cords, especially those generating heat. Doing this can prevent fire hazards when power comes back. Appliances with motors, like hand mixers and power drills, can also cause accidents if left connected.

Turn off circuit breakers on the distribution panel before evacuating to prevent accidents caused by appliances left on. Remember to turn off the gas, especially in extended absences from home.

Upon Returning Home

  1. Check all electrical and gas appliances for problems.
  2. Turn on circuit breakers one by one while verifying their operations.
  3. Reconnect disconnected electrical equipment after ensuring all breakers are in the On position. If there are noticeable issues, disconnect the appliance again without touching it and contact the power or gas company for inspection.
  4. Avoid operating switches, open flames, or electrical equipment if you smell gas. Close the gas and main cock at the meter, open windows, and contact the gas company immediately.
  5. Don’t use any appliance exposed to water due to flooding or leakage. Contact the dealer or service desk for inspection, as using such equipment poses risks of electric leakage and is extremely dangerous.

Prevention Tips

Perform Regular Electrical Maintenance:

  • Conduct routine inspections by a qualified electrician to spot and address potential fire hazards such as faulty outlets, frayed wires, or outdated systems.
  • Promptly replace damaged cords, frayed wires, or malfunctioning outlets.
  • Prevent circuit overload by spreading out electrical devices among multiple outlets.
  • Increase protection against electrical faults by installing circuit breakers and ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs).

Promote Safe Electrical Practices

  • Refrain from DIY electrical repairs unless trained.
  • Avoid running electrical cords beneath carpets, rugs, or furniture.
  • Never use damaged or frayed cords and cables.
  • Unplug appliances when not in use, especially before leaving or going to bed.

Develop an Emergency Plan

  • Establish evacuation routes and designate a meeting point outside the building.
  • Train occupants on using fire extinguishers for electrical fires and when to evacuate.
commercial electrician

Boost Your Property’s Electrical Safety

Knowing what to do during and after an electric catastrophe is important for ensuring personal safety, minimizing property damage, and responding effectively to potential hazards. Turning to proactive prevention measures and regular maintenance checks will increase protection against electrical fires.

When seeking reliable electrical services, considering the expertise and professionalism of Mountain Point Electrical can provide peace of mind and ensure optimal safety standards.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can regular electrical maintenance and inspections benefit me?

  • Enhanced Safety: Regular maintenance and inspections can identify potential hazards, such as outdated equipment or faulty wiring.
  • Reduced Risk of Breakdowns: Early identification and resolution of minor issues can halt their progression into significant problems.
  • Improved Energy Efficiency: Ensuring electrical systems have optimal functioning can help reduce energy wastage.
  • Extended Lifespan of Equipment: Proper maintenance can prolong the lifespan of electrical appliances and equipment.
  • Compliance with Regulations: Regular inspections can ensure that your electrical systems meet safety standards and comply with local regulations.
  • Peace of Mind: Knowing that your electrical systems are well-maintained and safe provides you and your family peace of mind, especially during severe weather or other emergencies.

What are the other techniques to improve electric safety?

Install smoke alarms on every property level, test them monthly and replace alarm batteries annually to ensure optimal performance. 

Learn about different classes of fire extinguishers and select the appropriate type for electrical fires—place fire extinguishers in easily accessible locations and train occupants on their proper use. Consider your property or workplace’s specific needs and risks when choosing fire safety equipment.

What are the risks linked with DIY electrical repairs?

  • Electrocution: DIY electrical repairs pose a significant risk of electrocution, especially without proper safety precautions.
  • Fire Hazard: Incorrect wiring or faulty repairs can lead to electrical fires, putting property and lives at risk. Improperly installed components may overheat, spark, or short circuit, leading to ignition.
  • Property Damage: DIY electrical repairs may damage electrical systems, appliances, and property infrastructure. This damage may be costly and could void warranties or insurance coverage.
  • Long-Term Costs: DIY electrical repairs incorrectly performed may lead to recurring issues, requiring professional intervention to rectify the problem correctly. These unresolved electrical issues can result in additional expenses in the long run.