I think at some point in our lives you’ll encounter a situation similar to this. You’re minding your own business relaxing at home, possibly on the internet or social media when suddenly, you hear a spark and start smelling electrical fire. A socket nearby popped, possibly got a short circuit, and is now catching fire.
Although the fire might die down and disappear with a simple baking soda fix, you never know what’s going to happen next. You can’t just fix everything with a DIY that you find on the internet. Electricity is best left with the professionals for you and your family’s safety.
This doesn’t mean that you just sit helplessly while your electrician is on the way though! There are precautions and things you can do to protect your family, home, and electronics while waiting.
Here are some of the precautions that you can do during an emergency before calling an electrician or while one is on the way!
Establish The Cause And How You Can Act Accordingly
Before calling anyone, you have to determine what problem you’re having. Different electrical problems call for different solutions and methods on the electrician’s part. A common example for this is when there’s an electrical fire. Electrical fires require a special type of fire extinguisher since a water-based one would make the problem worse.
Identifying the problem and giving proper information to your electricians or local fire department can be the difference between life and death.
So when faced with some of the common scenarios below, make sure to follow proper precautions!
Electrical fires can be caused by a lot of things, old outlets, water getting into outlets, faulty outlets, short circuits, and even faulty appliances. This type of fire accounts for around 25% of house fires in the US alone!
Electrical fires happen quickly so acting as soon as you find signs of an electrical fire can save your house and your family. If you notice smoke coming from an outlet or if you start to smell something burning or something fishy, chances are an electrical fire is about to happen.
When this happens, follow these steps:
- Call the local fire department (triple zero) even if the fire hasn’t started yet or even if the fire is minuscule.
- If it’s safe to do so, unplug the device from the outlet that’s smoking or on fire.
- If you have a CO2 fire extinguisher, use it to put out the fire before it spreads.
- Evacuate the house or building.
- Cut the power at the switch box.
Fallen Power Lines/Electrical Cables
The weather can be a cruel mistress, this is a fact that many Melburnians know. Seemingly bipolar, one moment it can be sunny and pleasant, and the next, there’s a huge storm that’s knocking down trees and power lines.
Although this may not seem like a problem if you’re safe inside your home, fallen power lines are still active and live wires are incredibly dangerous.
When this happens, here’s what you need to do:
- Stay at LEAST 40 meters away from the power line.
- Avoid conductive materials.
- Call triple zero (local fire department) if anyone is injured.
- Call the local electricity provider and don’t touch the live wires.
Being exposed to high voltage electricity without wearing proper equipment can prove to be fatal. If you’re lucky all you’ll get is a burn and an increased heart rate. If you’re not? Cardiac arrest and death are on the menu.
Here’s what to do when an electrical shock occurs:
- Turn off the power using the switch box.
- Call triple zero IMMEDIATELY.
- Offer CPR or first aid once the power is off.
- If the victim is still in danger, move them.
- Turn off all appliances as an extra precaution.