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State of Emergency, Part Two: What to Do in an Electrical Emergency

Welcome back! Last week we covered steps to take when a power outage occurs or when a person comes into contact with a live electrical wire. This week, our residential electricians will walk you through proper safety protocols for electrical fires, fallen power lines, and what to do if your car comes into contact with electrical wires. Read on to ensure your electrical safety knowledge is complete and up-to-date.

Electrical Fire

  • Never throw water on an electrical fire. If you have a chemical fire extinguisher nearby and have been trained to use it, do so. The chemicals will destroy the fire’s oxygen supply, effectively smothering it. Water causes electrical fires to grow bigger and hotter, and because water is a conductor, it puts you at risk for electric shock. If you don’t have a chemical fire extinguisher and the fire is small, baking soda is a good alternative, as sodium bicarbonate is the same substance used in chemical extinguishers.
  • Cut off electricity to the area. If the fire has been caused by an appliance, do not try to unplug the appliance, as that puts you at risk for shock. Instead, go to your breaker box and cut off the power from the source.
  • Call 911. If the fire is large, call for help immediately. If you can access your breaker box and turn off the power, this will make fighting the fire safer for the responders. Exit the house calmly and stay out until you’ve been given the all clear.
  • Be prepared. Keep an eye out for frayed wires, circuit breakers that frequently trip, discolored wall outlets, and other hazards. Call your residential electrician if you suspect there’s a problem. Learn how to use your chemical fire extinguishers. Keep one in the kitchen and at least one on every floor of the house. Replace them as needed. Sit down with your family and make sure you have a fire evacuation plan.
  • Often, breaker panels are labeled incorrectly. Test yours and make sure it’s correct before an emergency occurs, so that you know you’re cutting the power to the right area.

Fallen Power Lines

  • Take caution. Even though lines may not be sparking and crackling, they could still be very dangerous. Stay at least 40 feet away and try to keep others away as well.
  • Call the authorities immediately to report the danger.

Vehicle Safety

  • If your vehicle comes into contact with live wires, stay inside your car. Contact 911 immediately and wait until help arrives.
  • Roll down your windows and warn others to stay away from the area.
  • If you absolutely must exit the vehicle (for example, if there is additional risk from fire or other danger), do so carefully. Remove any loose or dangling clothing. Keep your hands by your sides and your feet close together. Do not touch any of the metal parts of your car. Try to hit the ground with both feet at the same time and shuffle away from the vehicle, keeping feet in contact with the ground until you are 100 feet from the vehicle.

We hope this series has helped you feel better prepared in case an emergency occurs. Keep in mind that we are always on hand to answer additional safety questions or perform a safety inspection of your home. Stay safe!

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