What to do in an electrical emergency

Posted: 16th November 2020

If you notice an electrical outlet smoking or you simply smell burning and think the possible cause may be an electrical circuit or appliance. Then this is a serious issue that requires immediate action. Knowing what to do in this situation can prevent both fire and serious injury and keep your home or business safe. The first step – beyond ensuring that your family is safe, ready to evacuate and there is currently no fire – is figuring out why the fault has occurred and if there is a simple way to isolate the fault. For example, unplugging a faulty appliance. In this situation, it is crucial to stay calm and moving quickly without panic.

If the electrical fault is not obvious, then these simple steps may help to save your home or business.

  • Identify your fuse board/distribution unit.
  • Try to identify which circuit is at fault and isolate that circuit.
  • If you are unable to pinpoint a specific circuit, then it may be easier to isolate the whole unit (This switch is usually the bigger one and often red in colour). Please bear in mind that all lighting may also turn off if this action is taken.
  • Do not attempt to re-initiate the power until the problem has been resolved and any damaged circuits have been looked at by a qualified electrician.

Causes of electrical faults

There are a few ways in which an electrical fault or fire may occur within your home of business. However, knowing how to prevent such issues is much better then having to fix a problem that has already happened. Common causes of electrical faults can include:

  • Wiring Issues
    Loose wires, damaged connections or faulty earthing anywhere within your home or business electrical system can cause arcing, leading to smoke and fire. Smoke from fires within the wall may escape through outlets. If you see smoke coming out of an outlet that is not in use, it’s a sign that the problem may be deeper than the wall outlet. If this is the case, turn off the circuit at the distribution board immediately. Evacuate and call 911, if necessary. Do not restore power to the circuit until a qualified electrician has been consulted.
  • Debris Inside the Outlet
    Dust or dirt inside an electrical outlet can cause a short circuit. A build-up of debris can transfer electricity, causing arcing between conductors. This creates heat and is a potential fire hazard. It is possible to clean electrical sockets by isolating the circuit and using a vacuum to try and clean any debris from the electrical socket. DO NOT stick any items inside an electrical outlet even if the circuit is off, you may cause internal damage to the outlet. Once this is done, the outlet may be wiped with a dry cloth. Do not spray anything near the plugs or get water or cleaning solutions inside the holes.
  • Overloaded Outlets
    With such an abundance of electrical devices and appliances in today’s homes and businesses, it is possible to overload circuits which can cause heat build-up and potential fires. Providing your electrical system is well maintained, then fuses will be in place to prevent a circuit from becoming dangerously overloaded. If you have several items plugged into the same circuit, the power demand from the combination of devices may exceed the load capacity of the circuit. Usually, this activates the circuit breaker, which shuts down power to that circuit. If the circuit breaker doesn’t trip, or if you persist in trying to run too many devices on the circuit, the overload will generate excess heat, leading to smouldering wires, smoke and possibly fire. Don’t ignore tripped circuits. If a circuit routinely trips, disconnect a few items and operate them on another circuit or consult a qualified electrician.
  • Loose Connections/Corrosion
    For electricity to flow correctly, connections between a device’s plug and the receptacle must be secure. Sometimes heavy use can cause outlets to become worn, cracked or corroded, affecting the way in which the prongs connect to the electrical outlet. Devices should plug in properly. Loose connections can cause arcing which by nature produces heat, which may cause smoke. If you notice a loose plug, the outlet may be damaged and should be replaced.

Electrical Issues are Not for Novices – Hire a Professional!

It is important that all electrical installations are maintained and inspected by a qualified electrician. In doing so, will ensure your home or business is as safe as can be whilst protecting your property from electrical faults and dangers.

There’s no doubt that electricity has transformed our lives over the past century, but sometimes we forget its fearsome power. When contained within a functioning, up-to-date electrical system, it provides us with endless modern conveniences and pleasures. But, if given the opportunity, it can be devastating, putting our homes and our lives at risk.

If you need a qualified electrician for any reason, then please get in contact with Care Projects on – 01752 214980 and our team will be more than happy to help you.

Find an Electrician Near Me

If you find that you home or business is not within the operating area of Care Projects, then a good place to look is on the NICEIC website. Here is an up to date list of all NICEIC registered electricians such as Care Projects who will be able to assist you with your electrical needs.

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