Dakota Valley Electric Cooperative –
December 17, 2012
By Kelly Trapnell
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. And
while all blazes may look the same, fires should not be treated equally.
According to the Federal Emergency
Management Agency, more than 26,000 electrical home fires result in property
damage, injuries, and even death every year. Remember this acronym F.I.R.E for
Find the source before it starts
Old or faulty wiring often emerges
as the main culprit in causing electrical fires. In electrical fires, heat from
wiring or an overloaded system can provide the strike that leads to a fire. But
there are often signs before a fire even starts.
Investigate the signs
If you notice flickering lights,
recurring trips in a circuit breaker, or a tell-tale sizzling sound around
wiring and hot light switches, call a qualified electrician. These may indicate
an imminent fire hazard.
Remedy the problem
If you have any signs of a pending fire
or have worries about old wiring, contact a professional electrician. Other
correct wattage bulbs to prevent overheating fixtures.
using damaged cords or running cords under rugs.
- Do not
overload outlets or extension cords.
- Do not
use appliances in wet areas.
check appliances for signs of wear and tear or overheating.
Exit the Building and Learn to
If you are faced with an electrical
fire, call 911 immediately and have everyone exit the building. If you feel you
must face a small fire, know the proper way to approach it.
- Never use
water on an electrical fire. Water conducts electricity, so it will not smother
the fire and may lead to electrocution.
- If the
circuit breaker does not trip in the area on fire, shut off the main breaker to
the house if possible. Be sure to approach the breaker only if the fire is not
nearby and if your hands are dry.
- Never use
a Class A extinguisher on an electrical fire. Use a Class C or a multi-purpose
ABC model. If there is no extinguisher available or the class of extinguisher
is not known, baking soda may help smother the flames.
- Again, if
the fire is not quickly extinguished, exit the building.
Even though the source and treatment of fires
may differ, they produce the same results. You are no match for the force of a
house fire—learn F.I.R.E. and protect yourself.
Sources: U.S. Fire Administration, Electrical Safety
Foundation International, National Fire Incident Reporting System
Kelly Trapnell writes on safety and energy efficiency issues
for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington,
Va.-based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit