How to Properly Handle an Electrical Emergency?

Image of wall outlet sparking

This day in age, it’s tough to get through life without electricity. As a society, we rely on it heavily and when a problem arises, it can feel like the end of the world. While working electricity is an absolute must for many households and businesses, it still comes with numerous risks and potential hazards. As electrical contractors in Vancouver, Surrey, Abbotsford, Langley, and other surrounding areas, it’s our top priority to keep our neighbours safe in times of electrical emergencies. However, if you’re in a pinch and experiencing electrical issues, here’s what you can do.

Types of Electrical Emergencies

Electrical Shocks

Your body conducts electricity. So, if you’re exposed to an electrical shock on any area of your body, electricity can easily flow through the rest of it. This can be extremely threatening to your well-being. Electrical shocks vary in severity, some lasting for a long time, others you can hardly feel. Nonetheless, the results can range from minor to serious, potentially causing skin burns, heart damage, or in severe cases, complete heart failure.

Fallen Power Lines

Fallen power lines are usually due to either impact (e.g., a car crashing into it) or weather (e.g., extreme winds). No matter the cause, fallen power lines are dangerous and should always be treated as a live wire. Never approach one without the proper training and experience.

Electrical Fires

Unfortunately, electrical fires are a common issue. Typically caused by either a faulty electrical system or faulty appliances, electrical fires can be devastating and dangerous. Have your electrical panels and systems serviced regularly to lower your risk of electrical fires.

Power Outages

As electrical contractors, we deal with power outages often. Also referred to as power failures or blackouts, these can occur for a multitude of reasons and have the potential to be dangerous as well as frustrating.

How to Handle an Electrical Emergency

Do NOT Touch Someone Under Electrical Shock

If a family member, friend, colleague, or stranger has experienced an electrical shock, your initial instinct is likely to run to their rescue. While this a natural and admirable response, it could worsen the situation by putting you under shock as well. Whatever you do, do not touch someone under electrical shock as the current could easily move through you.

Now, you may have seen people being “stuck” to the source of their electrical shock in the movies. We’re sorry to tell you that it happens in real life too. When the voltage is high enough, it can cause the victim’s muscles to contract. Therefore, disallowing them to remove their body from the source of the current. This is incredibly dangerous; therefore, you must maintain a safe distance between you, the victim, and the shock source.

Lastly, be mindful of any water on site. Like the human body, water is a great conductor of electricity. While you’re waiting for help to arrive, take great precautions when moving around the area.

Call Emergency Services

Call emergency services as soon as you can. If someone is experiencing an electrical shock, electrical fire, or any other type of emergency, it’s important that help is on the way. When you make the call, try to be as clear and composed as possible, and provide as much detail as you can. This will help the emergency crews prepare while en route to your address.

Turn Off the Power

If it’s safe to do so, turn off the main power source. This makes the emergency site safer to navigate and could prevent further electrical emergencies from occurring. But make sure that you turn the individual branches off before the main circuit breaker to protect your appliances.

If someone is experiencing electrical shock, and you cannot safely turn off the power, you can try to separate the victim from the shock source using a dry, non-conductive materials. For example, a wooden broomstick or the rescue crook from a low voltage rescue kit if you have one available.

Use a Fire Extinguisher

Hopefully you have a fire extinguisher handy – and know how to use it.

Thankfully, fire extinguishers are pretty intuitive and simple to use. All you need to do is pull the pin, depress the handle, and BEFORE holding down the handle, point the horn at the direction of the fire. Do this until the fire is completely out.

If you were NOT able to cut the power causing the electrical fire, you should only use a Class-C rated fire extinguisher. These are carbon dioxide or dry chemical based to efficiently put out the fire. If you were able to cut the power, it should be safe to use a Class A extinguisher, which is water-based. If you’re unsure of which one you have, have it checked before the emergency occurs. They cannot be used interchangeably to combat electrical fires. You can also check the label using this guide.

Troubleshoot Electrical Problems with Our Electrical Contractors

To improve your preparedness, and prevent electrical emergencies, call our team at BPM Electric. Our electrical contractors can evaluate your electrical systems and troubleshoot issues before they become an emergency.