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Electrical Fires: How They Start, Common Causes and Prevention

An electrical fire is a kind of fire that results from an electrical malfunction. Knowing how to recognise these types of fires is essential in keeping your home safe.

When it happens, getting in touch with a qualified electrical service provider is the best thing to do.

In this post, we’ll talk about how electrical fires start, the common causes, and how to prevent them.

How Do Electrical Fires Start?

Electrical fires start whenever an electrical fault happens in appliances or systems, which can result in hazardous situations. Knowing and fixing these issues immediately is vital to prevent potential problems.

Also, regular inspections by qualified experts can significantly minimise the risk of such fires.

3 Most Common Causes of Electrical Fires

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

Overloaded Circuits

Excessive demand on a single circuit can lead to an overload, a common cause of electrical fires. This often occurs when multiple appliances draw power simultaneously, resulting in excessive heat in electrical cables.

Improper Wiring

Electrical fires are frequently caused by substandard or outdated wiring. In particular, the presence of frayed wires is a significant hazard, often found in older buildings where the wiring no longer meets modern safety standards.

Electrical Fires_ How They Start, Common Causes and Prevention (1)

Faulty Outlets

Outlets and switches can become fire hazards, especially if they are damaged or poorly installed. Warning signs include discoloured outlets, making buzzing sounds, or feeling unusually warm.

How Can I Prevent Electrical Fires?

You can prevent electrical fires by doing the following:

  • Constantly check and maintain electrical cords and appliances to ensure they’re free from damage and are in good condition.
  • Avoid overloading circuits and outlets by distributing electrical devices evenly and not overusing extensions.
  • Get a licenced electrician to carry out periodic inspections of your home’s electrical system to identify and rectify possible hazards.

How Do I Put Out an Electrical Fire?

You can put out an electrical fire by switching off power, using the right fire extinguisher, and applying baking soda.

Switching Off Power

In the event of an electrical fire, the first step should always be to disconnect the power source if it’s safe to do so. Cutting off electricity can prevent the fire from spreading and reduce the electrocution risk.

Using the Right Fire Extinguisher

It’s important to use a Class C fire extinguisher for electrical fires, which is ideal for fires involving electrical equipment. Don’t use water as it conducts electricity and can result in electrocution.

Applying 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.