Out of all domestic fires, electrical fires are the most dangerous. Attempting to put out an electrical fire can result in you getting an electric shock, or worse, being electrocuted.
When it comes to electrical fires, prevention is better than cure. You need to go through your home with a fine-tooth comb and look for anything that could cause one.
This post will tell you how you can do that, so you can keep yourself and your family safe.
Before explaining what you need to do in order to inspect your home for any electrical fire hazards, it’s first important to explain how important it is for you to get your home’s consumer unit (also known as a fuse box) replaced by a professional if it’s not working properly. Your home’s consumer unit is its first line of defense against electrical fires. If an electrical fire is triggered, your consumer unit should kick in and turn off the fuse that’s powering the socket causing the fire. The cost to replace the consumer unit isn’t much. An electrician will be able to inspect it and tell you whether or not it needs to be replaced. Additionally, if any other replacements or repairs need to be made, make sure that they are done by a professional. Never attempt to repair and replace things yourself.
If any of your home’s sockets become very hot when they are used, then there is a problem. Make sure that you get an electrician to come in and inspect your sockets if you notice that they are becoming very hot. Your sockets shouldn’t become hot. If you do notice hot sockets, make sure that you turn those sockets off and if it’s possible for you to, cut off electricity to that room using your consumer unit.
Even sockets that are in extremely good condition and aren’t overheating can cause fires if they are overloaded. You need to make sure that you don’t plug multiple appliances into sockets. For example, if you have a standard two-socket arrangement behind your fridge, you shouldn’t plug your fridge and washing machine into it. This can lead to the sockets becoming overloaded. Instead, you should just plug the fridge into it and then plug the washing machine into another socket.
While on the subject of overloading sockets, it’s important to mention the use of extension leads. A lot of homeowners plug multiple appliances into extension leads. This is even more dangerous than overloading a socket. Extension leads aren’t usually designed to feed power to very large appliances like refrigerators and washing machines. More often than not, extension leads are designed to be used for things like televisions and phone chargers. Never plug multiple appliances (or any appliances for that matter) into extension leads. Instead, plug them directly into the wall. Don’t overload extension units with multiple things either (like televisions, games consoles, phone chargers, stereos, etc).
If you notice any circuit trips, then you need to find out what’s causing them. Circuit trips can quickly give way to electrical fires. Make sure that you identify the exact appliance or socket that’s causing the trip. If you can’t identify what’s causing it, then you should contact an electrician and keep your home’s electricity off until they arrive. You should be able to get an out-of-hours electrician to come into your house and search for what’s causing the trip. It is usually very easy to identify what’s causing trips. There are lots of online videos and tutorials you can use to help you to do this.
Before you go to bed, you need to make sure that you unplug any appliances that aren’t meant to be left on (like your fridge, freezer, and oven). Keeping unnecessary appliances plugged in and turned on overnight increases the risk of an electrical fire breaking out. If you are in bed when a fire does break out, then you might not discover it until the fire has spread. If you do have to keep appliances turned on overnight then make sure that the fire detector in that room is working.
While on the subject of fire and smoke detectors, make sure that your home’s ones are working. A lot of people’s fire detectors don’t even work and they aren’t even aware of it. The best way to ensure that they are all working properly is to hire an electrician to come into your house and perform a check. You may want to get an interlinked smoke alarm system. In Scotland, these are now mandatory. With interlinked systems, if one alarm goes off, then all of your home’s alarms will be triggered.
In addition to having your home’s fire detectors checked over by an electrician, you should also have your home’s entire electrics checked over once or twice a year. You should also get your EICR certificate renewed every ten years (or more frequently if you are a landlord). A professional electrician will be able to identify any potential fire hazards and resolve them for you. If you do identify any hazards, do not attempt to fix them yourself. Doing so could lead to you injuring yourself or making the problem worse.
If an electrical fire does break out, then the first thing that you need to do is to switch off all of your home’s power at the fuse box. You can put the fire out immediately by doing this. You should never attempt to use water on an electrical fire since this can lead to you getting an electric shock. You also need to make sure that you call the fire service immediately. You should invest in a fire extinguisher so that you can use it if a fire were to break out.
Electrical fires can be very dangerous. Make sure that you educate yourself on what to do in the event of a fire so that you don’t make the problem worse. Never use water to extinguish an electrical fire. Also, ensure that your fuse box is working, since it is your first line of defense.