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A Homeowner’s (Very) Basic Guide To Handling Electrical Emergencies

May 18, 2016 | Blog

For the most part, the rules of the electrical system in your home are very simple to follow. Don’t stick a fork in power outlets, don’t play with a plugged-in toaster in the bathtub, and don’t jiggle frayed wires to try and regain a connection. Sometimes it’s not about what not to do with your electrical system however, it’s what to do – especially in the event of an emergency. If you understand these basics, you can help avoid risk and serious damage until the electrician can get on-site to do a repair.

Be Comfortable With Your Breaker

Many times your home’s breaker will flip in a fluke. You might be running a space heater and the microwave while also doing some vacuuming or the current may just have an unusual boost, tripping the circuit. You should be comfortable flipping every breaker in your circuit box including the main power. You should also listen to your circuit board, however. If a breaker continues to flip it’s a sign of a problem that should be professionally inspected.

Know How to Use Your Fire Extinguisher

We’ve seen wall fire extinguishers used as a Winter jacket hanger and others buried under tools in a tote box on a back porch. Let alone knowing how to use the thing, many homeowners would have a hard enough time trying to find the extinguisher in case of an emergency. Your fire extinguisher should be within easy access and you should understand the PASS method of operation:

  • P- Pull the pin
  • A- Aim at the base of the fire
  • S – Squeeze the handle
  • S – Sweep side to side until the flames have extinguished

Know that Water is Dangerous to an Electrical Fire

The reason you need to know how to use your fire extinguisher is because it is your only hope (save for a fire retardant blanket) of corralling the flames in time. Water is a conductor (the reason you have GFCI outlets in bathrooms and kitchens) so throwing it on an electrical fire will likely cause the flames to spread.

Flickering Lights are Not Normal

We’ve all seen them in horror movies – lights that flicker identifying the presence of evil spirits. The truth is, instead of the Ghostbusters, the first call the teenagers should have made was to an electrician. Flickering lights can be caused by loose wires, worn-out fixtures, or a faulty switch in addition to the undead. The flickering is your warning sign that some major fire risks are prevalent in hidden areas (ceilings, behind walls).

Use Common Sense

Sure electrical issues can arise out of the blue, but a lot of times they have been failing for some time. Light plates that are hot, electrical cords that are held together by tape, wobbly ceiling fans, and appliances that consistently buzz you are all signs of issues (and ones that usually don’t fix themselves).

We’re glad to offer 24/7 electrical service, but we’re even happier to see you avoid emergency issues altogether.

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