Fear of fire is one of the top phobias in the world — #52 in fact (though oddly enough, fear of butterflies, or Lepidopterophobia, comes in at #43 — we will need to fact check this list). Either way, people are terrified of fires, and rightly so. Any kind of fire, especially electrical fires, can quickly get out of control and cause terrible damage in their wake.
One of the ways to overcome a phobia is to face it. Now, facing a fire doesn’t mean you should go around starting electrical fires and staring at the flames. That’s illegal and dangerous and crazy. What you should do instead is equip yourself with the knowledge on how to put out an electrical fire if you do find yourself facing one.
For clarity, let’s say the toaster in the kitchen has started on fire. Sparks started flying and suddenly the appliance has caught on fire and it’s threatening to spread. Also, you are cooking with oil on the stove, and you accidentally dripped oil across the floor… so you must act quickly.
Here is a guide that tells you how to put out an electrical fire. Remember that each fire is different so the steps you take will depend on the size of the fire and where it is.
Only if you can, pull the cord out so the plug comes out of the socket, cutting off the electrical supply.
If the electrical fire is small enough, smother it with baking soda if you have some. (On that note, keep baking soda on hand and well stocked in your kitchen cupboard.)
If the fire is big and getting bigger, employ your fire extinguisher. (Also, put checking the expiration date on your next To Do list.) Electrical fires are a class C fire, which means that you will need an extinguisher that is right for this type of fire. Most residential fire extinguishers are labelled ABC and are multi-purpose, but make sure you double check before using it on an electrical fire.
If none of this is possible, get out! Evacuate immediately. Your smoke alarm should be going off by this point so hopefully, if you are in an apartment, your neighbours will be on their way out, too. (Also, make sure that your smoke detector is functioning properly.)
Call 9-1-1 as soon as it is safe. If the room is filling with smoke, evacuate first before you do anything else, even before you call the fire department. Make sure the rest of the home’s occupants are on their way out, too.
Close the door as you leave the building to contain it as much as possible, and do not go back inside.
What’s the one thing never to do with an electrical fire? If you said “Throw water on it” you are correct. Electrical fires must be put out by smothering them to deprive the fire of its oxygen.
Much of fire safety is about prevention so make sure that your wiring is up to code and that your appliances are safe. A certified electrician like BPM Electric can come in and assess the building and help ensure your safety.